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" .  .  .  If  we  do  not  restore  the  Institution 

of  Property  we  cannot  escape  restoring 

the  Institution  of  Slavery;  there 

is  no  third  course." 




E.  S.  P.  HAYNES 

Published  October  1912 




THE  SUBJECTOFTHISBOOK  :— Itis written tomain- 
tain  the  thesis  that  industrial  society  as  we  know  it 
will  tend  towards  the  re-establishment  of  slavery 
— The  sections  into  which  the  book  will  be  divided 


DEFINITIONS  : — What  wealth  is  and  why  necessary 
to  man  —  How  produced  —  The  meaning  of  the 
words  Capital,  Proletariat, Property, Means  of  Pro- 
duction —  The  definition  of  the  Capitalist  State  — 
The  definition  of  the  SERVILE  STATE— What  it  is 
and  what  it  is  not — The  re-establishment  of  status 
in  the  place  of  contract  —  That  servitude  is  not  a 
question  of  degree  but  of  kind — Summary  of  these 

definitions page  1 1 


The  Servile  institution  in  Pagan  antiquity — Its  fun- 
damental character  —  A  Pagan  society  took  it  for 
granted — The  institution  disturbed  by  the  adventof 

the  Christian  Church PaSe^1 


DISSOLVED  : — The  subconscious  effect  of  the  Faith 
in  this  matter — The  main  elements  of  Pagan  eco- 
nomic society — The  Villa — The  transformation  of 
the  agricultural  slave  into  the  Christian  serf—  Next 
into  the  Christian  peasant — The  corresponding  er- 
ection throughout  Christendom  of  the  DISTRIBU- 
TIVE STATE — It  is  nearly  complete  at  the  close  of 
the  Middle  Ages — "  It  was  not  machinery  that  lost 
us  our  freedom,  it  was  the  loss  of  a  free  mind"  .  page  41 


failure  original  in  England — The  story  of  the  decline 
from  Distributive  property  to  Capitalism — The  eco- 
nomic revolution  of  the  sixteenth  century — Thecon- 
fiscation  of  monastic  land — What  might  have  hap- 


pened  had  the  State  retained  it — As  a  fact  that  land 
is  captured  by  an  oligarchy — England  is  Capitalist 
before  the  advent  of  the  industrial  revolution — 
Therefore  modern  industry,  proceeding  from  Eng- 
land, has  grown  in  a  Capitalist  mould  .  .  page  57 


nature  be  but  a  transitory  phase  lying  between  an 
earlier  and  a  later  stable  state  of  society — The  two 
internal  strains  which  render  it  unstable — (a)  The 
conflict  between  its  social  realities  and  its  moral  and 
legal  basis — (b)  The  insecurity  and  insufficiency  to 
which  it  condemns  free  citizens — The  few  posses- 
sors can  grant  or  withhold  livelihood  from  the  many 
non  -  possessors — Capitalism  is  so  unstable  that  it 
dares  not  proceed  to  its  own  logical  conclusion,  but 
tends  to  restrict  competition  among  owners,  and  in- 
security and  insufficiency  among  non-owners  .  page%>\ 


The  three  stable  social  arrangements  which  alone 
can  take  the  place  of  unstable  Capitalism  —  The 
Distributive  solution,  the  Collectivist  solution,  the 
Set  vile  solution — The  reformer  will  not  openly  ad- 
vocate the  Servile  solution — There  remain  only  the 
Distributive  and  the  Collectivist  solution  .  .  page  97 


OF  THE  CAPITALIST  CRUX  :— A  contrast  between 
the  reformermakingfor  Distribution  and  the  reform- 
er makingfor  Socialism  (or  Collectivism) — Thediffi- 
culties  met  by  the  first  type — He  is  working  against 
the  grain — The  second  is  working  with  the  grain — 
Collectivism  a  natural  development  of  Capitalism — 
It  appeals  both  to  Capitalist  and  Proletarian — None 
the  less  we  shall  see  that  the  Collectivist  attempt  is 


doomed  to  fail  and  to  produce  a  thing  very  different 
from  its  object — to  wit,  the  Serville  State  .  page  105 


types  of  reformers  working  along  the  line  of  least  re- 
sistance— These  are  the  Socialist  and  the  Practical 
Man — The  Socialist  again  isof  two  kinds, The  Hum- 
anist andthe  Statistician — The  Humanist wouldlike 
both  to  confiscate  from  the  owners  and  to  establish 
security  and  sufficiency  for  the  non-owners — He  is 
allowed  to  do  the  second  thingby  establishing  servile 
conditions  —  He  is  forbidden  to  do  thefirst  —  The 
Statistician  is  quite  content  so  long  as  he  can  run  and 
organise  the  poor — Both  are  canalised  towards  the 
Servile  State  and  both  are  shepherded  off  their  ideal 
Collectivist  State  —  Meanwhile  the  great  mass,  the 
proletariat,  upon  whom  the  reformers  are  at  work, 
though  retaining  the  instinct  of  ownership,  has  lost 
any  experienceofitandissubjecttoprivate  law  much 
more  than  to  the  law  of  the  Courts — This  is  exact- 
ly what  happened  in  the  past  during  the  converse 
change  from  Slavery  to  Freedom — Private  Law  be- 
came stronger  than  Public  at  the  beginning  of  the 
Dark  Ages  —  The  owners  welcomed  the  changes 
which  maintained  them  in  ownership  and  yet  in- 
creased the  security  of  their  revenue — To-day  the 
non-owners  will  welcome  whatever  keeps  them  a 
wage -earning  class  but  increases  their  wages  and 
their  security  without  insisting  on  the  expropriation 

of  the  owners p&ge  121 

An  Appendix  showing  that  the  Collectivist  proposal 
to  "  Buy-Out "  the  Capitalist  in  lieu  of  expropriating  him 
is  vain. 


THE  SERVILE  STATE  HAS  BEGUN  :— The  manifest- 
ation of  the  Servile  State  in  law  or  proposals  of  law 
will  fall  into  two  sorts — (a)  Laws  or  proposals  of  law 


compelling  the  proletariat  to  work — (b)  Financial  op- 
erations riveting  the  gripof  capitalists morestrongly 
upon  society — As  to  (a),  we  find  it  ALREADY  at  work 
in  measures  such  as  the  Insurance  Act  and  pro- 
posals such  as  Compulsory  Arbitration,  the  enforce- 
ment of  Trades  Union  bargains  and  the  erection  of 
"Labour  Colonies," etc.,  for  the  " unemployable" - 
As  to  thesecond,  we  find  that  so-called  "  Municipal" 
or  "Socialist"  experiments  in  acquiring  the  means 
of  production  have  ALREADY  increased  and  are  con- 
tinually increasing  the  dependence  of  society  upon 
the  Capitalist  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  page  155 

CONCLUSION  „      187 




and  prove  the  following  truth : — 

That  our  free  modern  society  in  which  the  means 
of  production  are  owned  by  a  few  being  necessarily 
in  unstable  equilibrium,  it  is  tending  to  reach  a 
condition  of  stable  equilibrium  BY  THE  ESTABLISH- 
WHO  DO.  With  this  principle  of  compulsion  applied 
against  the  non-owners  there  must  also  come  a  differ- 
ence in  their  status  ;  and  in  the  eyes  of  society  and 
of  its  positive  law  men  will  be  divided  into  two  sets  : 
the  first  economically  free  and  politically  free,  pos- 
sessed of  the  means  of  production,  and  securely  con- 
firmed in  that  possession ;  the  second  economically 
unfree  and  politically  unfree,  but  at  first  secured  by 
their  very  lack  of  freedom  in  certain  necessaries  of  life 
and  in  a  minimum  of  well-being  beneath  which  they 
shall  not  fall. 

Society  having  reached  such  a  condition  would  be 
released  from  its  present  internal  strains  and  would 
have  taken  on  a  form  which  would  be  stable :  that 
is,  capable  of  being  indefinitely  prolonged  without 
change.  In  it  would  be  resolved  the  various  factors 
of  instability  which  increasingly  disturb  that  form  of 
society  called  Capitalist,  and  men  would  be  satisfied 


to  accept,  and  to  continue  in,  such  a  settlement. 

To  such  a  stable  society  I  shall  give,  for  reasons 
which  will  be  described  in  the  next  section,  the  title 

I  shall  not  undertake  to  judge  whether  this  ap- 
proaching organisation  of  our  modern  society  be 
good  or  evil.  I  shall  concern  myself  only  with  show- 
ing the  necessary  tendency  towards  it  which  has  long 
existed  and  the  recent  social  provisions  which  show 
that  it  has  actually  begun. 

This  new  state  will  be  acceptable  to  those  who 
desire  consciously  or  by  implication  the  re-establish- 
ment among  us  of  a  difference  of  status  between  pos- 
sessor and  non-possessor :  it  will  be  distasteful  to 
those  who  regard  such  a  distinction  with  ill  favour  or 
with  dread. 

My  business  will  not  be  to  enter  into  the  discussion 
between  these  two  types  of  modern  thinkers,  but  to 
point  out  to  each  and  to  both  that  that  which  the  one 
favours  and  the  other  would  fly  is  upon  them. 

I  shall  prove  my  thesis  in  particular  from  the  case 
of  the  industrial  society  of  Great  Britain,  including 
that  small,  alien,  and  exceptional  corner  of  Ireland, 
which  suffers  or  enjoys  industrial  conditions  to-day. 

I  shall  divide  the  matter  thus : — 

(1)  I  shall  lay  down  certain  definitions. 

(2)  Next,  I  shall  describe  the  institution  of  slavery 
and  THE  SERVILE  STATE  of  which  it  is  the  basis,  as 



these  were  in  the  ancient  world. 
I  shall  then : 

(3)  Sketch  very  briefly  the  process  whereby  that 
age-long  institution  of  slavery  was  slowly  dissolved 
during  the  Christian  centuries,  and  whereby  the  re- 
sulting mediaeval  system,  based  upon  highly  divided 
property  in  the  means  of  production,  was 

(4)  wrecked  in  certain  areas  of  Europe  as  it  ap- 
proached completion,  and  had  substituted  for  it,  in 
practice  though  not  in  legal  theory,  a  society  based 

(5)  Next,  I  shall  show  how  Capitalism  was  of  its 
nature  unstable,  because  its  social  realities  were  in 
conflict  with  all  existing  or  possible  systems  of  law, 
and  because  its  effects  in  denying  sufficiency  and  se- 
curity were  intolerable  to  men  ;  how  being  thus  un- 
stable, it  consequently  presented  a  problem  which 
demanded  a  solution :  to  wit,  the  establishment  of 
some  stable  form  of  society  whose  law  and  social 
practice  should  correspond,  and  whose  economic  re- 
sults, by  providing  sufficiency  and  security,  should  be 
tolerable  to  human  nature. 

(6)  I  shall  next  present  the  only  three  possible 
solutions : — 

(a)  Collectivism,  or  the  placing  of  the  means  of 
production  in  the  hands  of  the  political  officers  of 
the  community. 

(b)  Property,  or  the  re-establishment  of  a  Distri- 


butive  State  in  which  the  mass  of  citizens  should 
severally  own  the  means  of  production. 

(c)  Slavery,  or  a  Servile  State  in  which  those  who 
do  not  own  the  means  of  production  shall  be  legally 
compelled  to  work  for  those  who  do,  and  shall  receive 
in  exchange  a  security  of  livelihood. 

Now,  seeing  the  distaste  which  the  remains  of  our 
long  Christian  tradition  has  bred  in  us  for  directly 
advocating  the  third  solution  and  boldly  supporting 
the  re-establishment  of  slavery,  the  first  two  alone  are 
open  to  reformers:  (i)  a  reaction  towards  a  condition 
of  well-divided  property  or  the  Distributive  State;  (2) 
an  attempt  to  achieve  the  ideal  Collectivist  State. 

It  can  easily  be  shown  that  this  second  solution 
appeals  most  naturally  and  easily  to  a  society  al- 
ready Capitalist  on  account  of  the  difficulty  which" 
such  a  society  has  to  discover  the  energy,  the  will, 
and  the  vision  requisite  for  the  first  solution. 

(7)  I  shall  next  proceed  to  show  how  the  pursuit 
of  this  ideal  Collectivist  State  which  is  bred  of  Capi- 
talism leads  men  acting  upon  a  Capitalist  society  not 
towards  the  Collectivist  State  nor  anything  likeit, but 
to  that  third  utterly  differentthing — the  Servile  State. 

To  thiseighth  section  I  shalladd  an  appendix  show- 
ing how  the  attempt  to  achieve  Collectivism  gradu- 
ally by  public  purchase  is  based  upon  an  illusion. 

(8)  Recognising  that  theoretical  argument  of  this 
kind,  though  intellectually  convincing,  is  not  suffi- 



cient  to  the  establishment  of  my  thesis,  I  shall  con- 
clude by  giving  examples  from  modern  English  leg- 
islation, which  examples  prove  that  the  Servile  State 
is  actually  upon  us. 

Such  is  the  scheme  I  design  for  this  book. 



can  only  live  by  the  transformation  of  his  environ- 
ment to  his  own  use.  He  must  transform  his  en- 
vironment from  a  condition  where  it  is  less  to  a  con- 
dition where  it  is  more  subservient  to  his  needs. 

That  special,  conscious,and  intelligent  transforma- 
tion of  his  environment  which  is  peculiar  to  the  pe- 
culiar intelligence  and  creative  faculty  of  man  we 
call  the  Production  of  Wealth. 

Wealth  is  matter  which  has  been  consciously  and 
intelligently  transformed  from  a  condition  in  which 
it  is  less  to  a  condition  in  which  it  is  more  service- 
able to  a  human  need. 

Without  Wealth  man  cannot  exist.  The  produc- 
tion of  it  is  a  necessity  to  him,  and  though  it  proceeds 
from  the  more  to  the  less  necessary,  and  even  to  those 
forms  of  production  which  we  call  luxuries,  yet  in 
any  given  human  society  there  is  a  certain  fo'ndand 
a  certain  amount of  wealth  without  which  human  life 
cannot  be  lived  :  as,  for  instance,  in  England  to-day, 
certain  forms  of  cooked  and  elaborately  prepared 
food,  clothing,  warmth,  and  habitation. 

Therefore,  to  control  the  production  of  wealth  is  to 
control  human  life  itself.  To  refuse  man  the  opportu- 
nity for  the  production  of  wealth  is  to  refuse  him  the 
opportunity  for  life ;  and,  in  general,  the  way  in  which 
the  production  of  wealth  is  by  law  permitted  is  the 
only  way  in  which  the  citizens  can  legally  exist, 


Wealth  can  only  be  produced  by  the  application 
of  human  energy,  mental  and  physical,  to  the  forces 
of  nature  around  us,  and  to  the  material  which  those 
forces  inform. 

This  human  energy  so  applicable  to  the  material 
world  and  its  forces  we  will  call  Labour.  As  for  that 
material  and  those  natural  forces,  we  will  call  them, 
for  the  sake  of  shortness,  by  the  narrow,  but  conven- 
tionally accepted,  term  Land. 

It  would  seem,  therefore,  that  all  problems  con- 
nected with  the  production  of  wealth,  and  all  discus- 
sion thereupon,  involve  but  two  principal  original 
factors,  to  wit,  Labour  and  Land,  But  it  so  happens 
that  the  conscious,  artificial,  and  intelligent  action  of 
man  upon  nature,  corresponding  to  his  peculiar  char- 
acter compared  with  other  created  beings,  introduces 
a  third  factor  of  the  utmost  importance. 

Man  proceeds  to  create  wealth  by  ingenious  meth- 
ods of  varying  and  often  increasing  complexity,  and 
aids  himself  by  the  construction  of  implements.  These 
soon  become  in  each  new  department  of  the  produc- 
tion as  truly  necessary  to  that  production  as  labour 
and  land.  Further,  any  process  of  production  takes  a 
certain  time ;  during  that  time  the  producer  must  be 
fed,  and  clothed,  and  housed, and  the  rest  of  it.  There 
must  therefore  be  an  accumulation  of  wealth  created 
in  the  past,  and  reserved  with  the  object  of  maintain- 
ing labour  during  its  effort  to  produce  for  the  future. 



Whether  it  be  the  making  of  an  instrument  or  tool, 
or  the  setting  aside  of  a  store  of  provisions,  labour 
applied  to  land  for  either  purpose  is  not  producing 
wealth  for  immediate  consumption.  It  is  setting 
aside  and  reserving  somewhat,  and  that  somewhat  is 
always  necessary  in  varying  proportions  according 
to  the  simplicity  or  complexity  of  the  economic 
society  to  the  production  of  wealth. 

To  such  wealth  reserved  and  set  aside  for  the  pur- 
poses of  future  production,  and  not  for  immediate 
consumption,  whether  it  be  in  the  form  of  instru- 
ments and  tools,  or  in  the  form  of  stores  for  the  main- 
tenance of  labour  during  the  process  of  production, 
we  give  the  name  of  Capital. 

There  are  thus  three  factors  in  the  production  of 
all  human  wealth,  which  we  may  conventionally  term 
Land,  Capital,  and  Labour. 

When  we  talk  of  the  Means  of  Production  we  sig- 
nify land  and  capital  combined.  Thus,  when  we  say 
that  a  man  is  "  dispossessed  of  the  means  of  produc- 
tion," or  cannot  produce  wealth  save  by  the  leave 
of  another  who  "possesses  the  means  of  production," 
we  mean  that  he  is  the  master  only  of  his  labour 
and  has  no  control,  in  any  useful  amount,  over  either 
capital,  or  land,  or  both  combined. 

A  man  politically  free,  that  is,  one  who  enjoys 
the  right  before  the  law  to  exercise  his  energies 
when  he  pleases  (or  not  at  all  if  he  does  not  so  please), 


but  not  possessed  by  legal  right  of  control  over  any 
useful  amount  of  the  means  of  production,  we  call 
proletarian,  and  any  considerable  class  composed  of 
such  men  we  call  a  proletariat. 

Property  is  a  term  used  for  that  arrangement  in 
society  whereby  the  control  of  land  and  of  wealth 
made  from  land,  including  therefore  all  the  means 
of  production,  is  vested  in  some  person  or  corpora- 
tion. Thus  we  may  say  of  a  building,  including  the 
land  upon  which  it  stands,  that  it  is  the  "  property  " 
of  such  and  such  a  citizen,  or  family,  or  college,  or 
of  the  State,  meaning  that  those  who  "  own  "  such 
property  are  guaranteed  by  the  laws  in  the  right 
to  use  it  or  withhold  it  from  use.  Private  property 
signifies  such  wealth  (including  the  means  of  pro- 
duction) as  may,  by  the  arrangements  of  society,  be% 
in  the  control  of  persons  or  corporations  other  than 
the  political  bodies  of  which  these  persons  or  cor- 
porations are  in  another  aspect  members.  What  dis- 
tinguishes private  property  is  not  that  the  posses- 
sor thereof  is  less  than  the  State,  or  is  only  a  part 
of  the  State  (for  were  that  so  we  should  talk  of  muni- 
cipal property  as  private  property),  but  rather  that 
the  owner  may  exercise  his  control  over  it  to  his  own 
advantage,  and  not  as  a  trustee  for  society,  nor  in  the 
hierarchy  of  political  institutions.  Thus  Mr  Jones 
is  a  citizen  of  Manchester,  but  he  does  not  own  his 
private  property  as  a  citizen  of  Manchester,  he  owns 



it  as  Mr  Jones,  whereas,  if  the  house  next  to  his  own 
be  owned  by  the  Manchester  municipality,  they  own 
it  only  because  they  are  a  political  body  standing 
for  the  whole  community  of  the  town.  Mr  Jones 
might  move  to  Glasgow  and  still  own  his  property 
in  Manchester,  but  the  municipality  of  Manchester 
can  only  own  its  property  in  connection  with  the 
corporate  political  life  of  the  town. 

An  ideal  society  in  which  the  means  of  production 
should  be  in  the  hands  of  the  political  officers  of  the 
community  we  call  Collectivist,  or  more  generally 

A  society  in  which  private  property  in  land  and 
capital,  that  is,  the  ownership  and  therefore  the  con- 
trol of  the  means  of  production,  is  confined  to  some 
number  of  free  citizens  not  large  enough  to  determine 
the  social  mass  of  the  State,  while  the  rest  have  not 
such  property  and  are  therefore  proletarian,  we  call 
Capitalist ;  and  the  method  by  which  wealth  is  pro- 
duced in  such  a  society  can  only  be  the  application 
of  labour,  the  determining  mass  of  which  must  neces- 
sarily be  proletarian,  to  land  and  capital,  in  such 
fashion  that,  of  the  total  wealth  produced,  the  Prole- 
tariat which  labours  shall  only  receive  a  portion. 

The  two  marks,  then,  defining  the  Capitalist  State 

*  Save  in  this  special  sense  of  "  Collectivist,"  the  word  "  So- 
cialist "  has  either  no  clear  meaning,  or  is  used  synonymously 
with  other  older  and  better-known  words. 



are:  (i)  That  the  citizens  thereof  are  politically  free: 
i.e.  can  use  or  withhold  at  will  their  possessions  or 
their  labour,  but  are  also  (2)  divided  into  capitalist 
and  proletarian  in  such  proportions  that  the  State 
as  a  whole  is  not  characterised  by  the  institution  of 
ownership  among  free  citizens,  but  by  the  restriction 
of  ownership  to  a  section  markedly  less  than  the 
whole,  or  even  to  a  small  minority.  Such  a  Capitalist 
State  is  essentially  divided  into  two  classes  of  free 
citizens,  the  one  capitalist  or  owning,  the  other  pro- 
pertyless  or  proletarian. 

My  last  definition  concerns  the  Servile  State  it- 
self, and  since  the  idea  is  both  somewhat  novel  and 
also  the  subject  of  this  book,  I  will  not  only  establish 
but  expand  its  definition. 

The  definition  of  the  Servile  State  is  as  follows:— - 

"  That  arrangement  of  society  in  which  so  consider- 
able a  number  of  the  families  and  individuals  are  con- 
strained by  positive  law  to  labour  for  the  advantage  of 
other  families  and  individuals  as  to  stamp  the  whole 
community  with  the  mark  of  such  labour  we  call  THE 

Note  first  certain  negative  limitations  in  the  above 
which  must  be  clearly  seized  if  we  are  not  to  lose 
clear  thinking  in  a  fog  of  metaphor  and  rhetoric. 

That  society  is  not  servile  in  which  men  are  in- 
telligently constrained  to  labour  by  enthusiasm,  by 
a  religious  tenet,  or  indirectly  from  fear  of  destitu- 



tion,  or  directly  from  love  of  gain,  or  from  the  com- 
mon sense  which  teaches  them  that  by  their  labour 
they  may  increase  their  well-being. 

A  clear  boundary  exists  between  the  servile  and 
the  non-servile  condition  of  labour,  and  the  condi- 
tions upon  either  side  of  that  boundary  utterly  differ 
one  from  another,  Where  there  is  compulsion  ap- 
plicable by  positive  law  to  men  of  a  certain  status,ar\d 
such  compulsion  enforced  in  the  last  resort  by  the 
powers  at  the  disposal  of  the  State,  there  is  the  in- 
stitution of  Slavery ;  and  if  that  institution  be  suf- 
ficiently expanded  the  whole  State  may  be  said  to 
repose  upon  a  servile  basis,  and  is  a  Servile  State. 
i  Where  such  formal,legal  status  is  absent  the  condi- 
tions are  not  servile;  and  the  difference  bet  ween  servi- 
tude and  freedom,  appreciable  in  a  thousand  details 
of  actual  life,  is  most  glaring  in  this  :  that  the  free 
man  can  refuse  his  labour  and  use  that  refusal  as  an 
instrument  wherewith  to  bargain ;  while  the  slave 
has  no  such  instrument  or  power  to  bargain  at  all, 
but  is  dependent  for  his  well-being  upon  the  custom 
of  society,  backed  by  the  regulation  of  such  of  its 
laws  as  may  protect  and  guarantee  the  slave. 

Next,  let  it  be  observed  that  the  State  is  not  ser- 
vile because  the  mere  institution  of  slavery  is  to  be 
discovered  somewhere  within  its  confines.  The  State 
is  only  servile  when  so  considerable  a  body  of  forced 
labour  is  affected  by  the  compulsion  of  positive  law 
17  2 


as  to  give  a  character  to  the  whole  community. 

Similarly,  that  State  is  not  servile  in  which  all 
citizens  are  liable  to  submit  their  energies  to  the  com- 
pulsion of  positive  law,  and  must  labour  at  the  dis- 
cretion of  State  officials.  By  loose  metaphor  and 
for  rhetorical  purposes  men  who  dislike  Collectivism 
(for  instance)  or  the  discipline  of  a  regiment  will  talk 
of  the  "  servile  "  conditions  of  such  organisations. 
But  for  the  purposes  of  strict  definition  and  clear 
thinking  it  is  essential  to  remember  that  a  servile  con- 
dition only  exists  by  contrast  with  a  free  condition. 
The  servile  condition  is  present  in  society  only  when 
there  is  also  present  the  free  citizen  for  whose  bene- 
fit the  slave  works  under  the  compulsion  of  positive 

Again,  it  should  be  noted  that  this  word  "  servile  " 
in  no  way  connotes  the  worst,  nor  even  necessarily 
a  bad,  arrangement  of  society,  This  point  is  so  clear 
that  it  should  hardly  delay  us ;  but  a  confusion  be- 
tween the  rhetorical  and  the  precise  use  of  the  word 
servile  I  have  discovered  to  embarrass  public  dis- 
cussion of  the  matter  so  much  that  I  must  once  more 
emphasise  what  should  be  self-evident. 

The  discussion  as  to  whether  the  institution  of 
slavery  be  a  good  or  a  bad  one,  or  be  relatively  better 
or  worse  than  other  alternative  institutions,  has  noth- 
ing whatever  to  do  with  the  exact  definition  of  that 
institution.  Thus  Monarchy  consists  in  throwing  the 



responsibility  for  the  direction  of  society  upon  an 
individual.  One  can  imagine  some  Roman  of  the 
first  century  praising  the  new  Imperial  power,  but 
through  a  muddle-headed  tradition  against  "  kings  " 
swearing  that  he  would  never  tolerate  a  "  monarchy." 
Such  a  fellow  would  have  been  a  very  futile  critic  of 
public  affairs  under  Trajan,  but  no  more  futile  than 
a  man  who  swears  that  nothing  shall  make  him  a 
"  slave,"  though  well  prepared  to  accept  laws  that 
compel  him  to  labour  without  his  consent,  under  the 
forceof  public  law,and  upon  terms  dictated  by  others. 

Many  would  argue  that  a  man  so  compelled  to 
labour,  guaranteed  against  insecurity  and  against  in- 
sufficiency of  food,  housing  and  clothing,  promised 
subsistence  for  his  old  age,  and  a  similar  set  of  ad- 
vantages for  his  posterity,  would  be  a  great  deal  better 
off  than  a  free  man  lacking  all  these  things.  But  the 
argument  does  not  affect  the  definition  attaching  to 
the  word  servile.  A  devout  Christian  of  blameless 
life  drifting  upon  an  ice-flow  in  the  Arctic  night, 
without  food  or  any  prospect  of  succour,  is  not  so 
comfortablycircumstanced  as  the  Khedive  of  Egypt; 
but  it  would  be  folly  in  establishing  the  definition  of 
the  words  "Christian"  and  "  Mahommedan"  to  bring 
this  contrast  into  account. 

We  must  then,  throughout  this  inquiry,  keep  strict- 
ly to  the  economic  aspect  of  the  case.  Only  when 
that  is  established  and  when  the  modern  tendency 


to  the  re-establishment  of  slavery  is  clear,  are  we  free 
to  discuss  the  advantages  and  disadvantages  of  the 
revolution  through  which^we  are  passing. 

It  must  further  be  grasped  that  the  essential  mark 
of  the  Servile  Institution  does  not  depend  upon  the 
ownership  of  the  slave  by  a  particular  master.  That 
the  institution  of  slavery  tends  to  that  form  under  the 
various  forces  composing  human  nature  and  human 
society  is  probable  enough.  That  if  or  when  slavery 
were  re-established  in  England  a  particular  man 
would  in  time  be  found  the  slave  not  of  Capitalism 
in  general  but  of,  say,  the  Shell  Oil  Trust  in  partic- 
ular, is  a  very  likely  development ;  and  we  know  that 
in  societies  where  the  institution  was  of  immemorial 
antiquity  such  direct  possession  of  the  slave  by  the 
free  man  or  corporation  of  free  men  had  come  to  be 
the  rule.  But  my  point  is  that  such  a  mark  is  not 
essential  to  the  character  of  slavery.  As  an  initial 
phase  in  the  institution  of  slavery,  or  even  as  a  per- 
manent phase  marking  society  for  an  indefinite  time, 
it  is  perfectly  easy  to  conceive  of  a  whole  class  ren- 
dered servile  by  positive  law,  and  compelled  by  such 
law  to  labour  for  the  advantage  of  another  non-ser- 
vile free  class,  without  any  direct  act  of  possession 
permitted  to  one  man  over  the  person  of  another. 

The  final  contrast  thus  established  between  slave 
and  free  might  be  maintained  by  the  State  guaran- 
teeing to  the  un-free,  security  in  their  subsistence,  to 



the  free,  security  in  their  property  and  profits,  rent 
and  interest.  What  would  mark  the  slave  in  such  a 
society  would  be  his  belonging  to  that  set  or  status 
which  was  compelled  by  no  matter  what  definition 
to  labour,  and  was  thus  cut  off  from  the  other  set  or 
status  not  compelled  to  labour,  but  free  to  labour  or 
not  as  it  willed. 

Again,  the  Servile  State  would  certainly  exist  even 
though  a  man,  being  only  compelled  to  labour  dur- 
ing a  portion  of  his  time,  were  free  to  bargain  and 
even  to  accumulate  in  his  "  free  "  time.  The  old  law- 
yers used  to  distinguish  between  a  serf  "  in  gross  " 
and  a  serf  "  regardant."  A  serf  "  in  gross  "  was  one 
who  was  a  serf  at  all  times  and  places,  and  not  in  re- 
spect to  a  particular  lord.  A  serf  "  regardant "  was  a 
serf  only  in  his  bondage  to  serve  a  particular  lord. 
He  was  free  as  against  other  men.  And  one  might 
perfectly  well  have  slaves  who  were  only  slaves  "  re- 
gardant "  to  a  particular  type  of  employment  during 
particular  hours.  But  they  would  be  slaves  none  the 
less,  and  if  their  hours  were  many  and  their  class 
numerous,  the  State  which  they  supported  would  be 
a  Servile  State. 

Lastly,  let  it  be  remembered  that  the  servile  con- 
dition remains  as  truly  an  institution  of  the  State 
when  it  attaches  permanently  and  irrevocably  at  any 
one  time  to  a  particular  set  of  human  beings  as  when 
it  attaches  to  a  particular  class  throughout  their  lives. 


Thus  the  laws  of  Paganism  permitted  the  slave  to 
be  enfranchised  by  his  master :  it  further  permitted 
children  or  prisoners  to  be  sold  into  slavery.  The 
Servile  Institution,  though  perpetually  changing  in 
the  elements  of  its  composition,  was  still  an  unchang- 
ing factor  in  the  State.  Similarly,  though  the  State 
should  only  subject  to  slavery  those  whohad  less  than 
a  certain  income,  while  leaving  men  free  by  inherit- 
ance or  otherwise  to  pass  out  of,  and  by  loss  to  pass 
into,  the  slave  class,  that  slave  class,  though  fluctuat- 
ing as  to  its  composition,  would  still  permanently 

Thus,  if  the  modern  industrial  State  shall  make  a 
law  by  which  servile  conditions  shall  not  attach  to 
those  capable  of  earning  more  than  a  certain  sum  by- 
their  own  labour,  but  shall  attach  to  those  who  earn 
less  than  this  sum  ;  or  if  the  modern  industrial  State 
defines  manual  labour  in  a  particular  fashion,  renders 
it  compulsory  during  a  fixed  time  for  those  who  un- 
dertake it,  but  leaves  them  free  to  turn  later  to  other 
occupations  if  they  choose,  undoubtedly  such  dis- 
tinctions, though  they  attach  to  conditions  and  not 
to  individuals,  establish  the  Servile  Institution. 

Some  considerable  number  must  be  manual  work- 
ers by  definition, and  while  they  were  so  defined  would 
be  slaves.  Here  again  the  composition  of  the  Servile 
class  would  fluctuate,  but  the  class  would  be  perma- 
nent and  large  enough  to  stamp  all  society.  I  need 



not  insist  upon  the  practical  effect :  that  such  a  class, 
once  established, tends  to  be  fixed  in  the  great  major- 
ity of  those  which  make  it  up,  and  that  the  individ- 
uals entering  or  leaving  it  tend  to  become  few  com- 
pared to  the  whole  mass. 

There  is  one  last  point  to  be  considered  in  this  de- 

It  is  this  :— 

Since,  in  the  nature  of  things,  a  free  society  must 
enforce  a  contract  (a  free  society  consisting  in  noth- 
ing else  but  the  enforcement  of  free  contracts),  how 
far  can  that  be  called  a  Servile  condition  which  is  the 
result  of  contract  nominally  or  really  free  ?  In  other 
words,  is  not  a  contract  to  labour,  however  freely  en- 
tered into,  servile  of  its  nature  when  enforced  by  the 
State  ? 

For  instance,  I  have  no  food  or  clothing,  nor  do  I 
possess  the  means  of  production  whereby  I  can  pro- 
duce any  wealth  in  exchange  for  such.  I  am  so  cir- 
cumstanced that  an  owner  of  the  Means  of  Produc- 
tion will  not  allow  me  access  to  those  Means  unless 
I  sign  a  contract  to  serve  him  for  a  week  at  a  wage 
of  bare  subsistence.  Does  the  State  in  enforcing  that 
contract  make  me  for  that  week  a  slave  ? 

Obviously  not.  For  the  institution  of  Slavery  pre- 
supposes a  certain  attitude  of  mind  in  the  free  man 
and  in  the  slave,  a  habit  of  living  in  either,  and  the 
stamp  of  both  those  habits  upon  society.  No  such 


effects  are  produced  by  a  contract  enforceable  by  the 
length  of  one  week.  The  duration  of  human  life  is 
such,  and  the  prospect  of  posterity,  that  the  fulfilling 
of  such  a  contract  in  no  way  wounds  the  senses  of 
liberty  and  of  choice. 

What  of  a  month,  a  year,  ten  years,  a  lifetime?  Sup- 
pose an  extreme  case,  and  a  destitute  man  to  sign  a 
contract  binding  him  and  all  his  children  who  were 
minors  to  work  for  a  bare  subsistence  until  his  own 
death,  or  the  attainment  of  majority  of  the  children, 
whichever  event  might  happen  latest ;  would  the 
State  in  forcing  that  contract  be  making  the  man  a 
slave  ? 

As  undoubtedly  as  it  would  not  be  making  him  a 
slave  in  the  first  case,  it  would  be  making  him  a  slave 
in  the  second. 

One  can  only  say  to  ancient  sophistical  difficulties 
of  this  kind, that  the  sense  of  men  establishes  for  itself 
the  true  limits  of  any  object,  as  of  freedom.  What 
freedom  is,  or  is  not,  in  so  far  as  mere  measure  of  time 
is  concerned  (though  of  course  much  else  than  time 
enters  in), human  habit  determines;  but  the  enforcing 
of  a  contract  of  service  certainly  or  probably  leaving 
a  choice  after  its  expiration  is  consonant  with  free- 
dom. The  enforcement  of  a  contract  probably  bind- 
ing one's  whole  life  is  not  consonant  with  freedom. 
One  binding  to  service  a  man's  natural  heirs  is  in- 
tolerable to  freedom. 



Consider  another  converse  point.  A  man  binds 
himself  to  work  for  life  and  his  children  after  him  so 
far  as  the  law  may  permit  him  to  bind  them  in  a 
particular  society,  but  that  not  for  a  bare  subsistence, 
but  for  so  large  a  wage  that  he  will  be  wealthy  in  a 
few  years,and  his  posterity,when  the  contractis  com- 
pleted, wealthier  still.  Does  the  State  in  forcing  such 
a  contract  make  the  fortunate  employee  a  slave  ? 
No.  For  it  is  in  the  essence  of  slavery  that  subsist- 
ence or  little  more  than  subsistence  should  be  guar- 
anteed to  the  slave.  Slavery  exists  in  order  that  the 
Free  should  benefit  by  its  existence,  and  connotes  a 
condition  in  which  the  men  subjected  to  it  may  de- 
mand secure  existence,  but  little  more. 

If  anyone  were  to  draw  an  exact  line,  and  to  say 
that  a  life-contract  enforceable  by  law  was  slavery 
at  so  many  shillings  a  week,  but  ceased  to  be  slavery 
after  that  margin,  his  effort  would  be  folly.  None  the 
less,  there  is  a  standard  of  subsistence  in  any  one 
society,  the  guarantee  of  which  (or  little  more)  under 
an  obligation  to  labour  by  compulsion  is  slavery, 
while  the  guarantee  of  very  much  more  is  not  slavery. 

This  verbal  jugglery  might  be  continued.  It  is  a 
type  of  verbal  difficulty  apparent  in  every  inquiry 
open  to  the  professional  disputant,  but  of  no  effect 
upon  the  mind  of  the  honest  inquirer  whose  business 
is  not  dialectic  but  truth. 

It  is  always  possible  by  establishing  a  cross-sec - 


tion  in  a  set  of  definitions  to  pose  the  unanswerable 
difficulty  of  degree,  but  that  will  never  affect  the 
realities  of  discussion.  We  know,  for  instance,  what 
is  meant  by  torture  when  it  exists  in  a  code  of  laws, 
and  when  it  is  forbidden.  No  imaginary  difficulties 
of  degree  between  pulling  a  man's  hair  and  scalping 
him,  between  warming  him  and  burning  him  alive, 
will  disturb  a  reformer  whose  business  it  is  to  ex- 
punge torture  from  some  penal  code. 

In  the  same  way  we  know  what  is  and  what  is  not 
compulsory  labour,  what  is  and  what  is  not  the  Ser- 
vile Condition.  Its  test  is,  I  repeat,  the  withdrawal 
from  a  man  of  his  free  choice  to  labour  or  not  to 
labour,  here  or  there,  for  such  and  such  an  object ; 
and  the  compelling  of  him  by  positive  law  to  labour 
for  the  advantage  of  others  who  do  not  fall  under  the 
same  compulsion. 

Where  you  have  that,  you  have  slavery  :  with  all 
the  manifold,  spiritual,  and  political  results  of  that 
ancient  institution. 

Where  you  have  slavery  affecting  a  class  of  such 
considerable  size  as  to  mark  and  determine  the  char- 
acter of  the  State,  there  you  have  the  Servile  State. 

To  sum  up,  then : — The  SERVILE  STATE  is  that 

in  which  we  find  so  considerable  a  body  of  families 

and  individuals  distinguished  from  free  citizens  by 

,       the  mark  of  compulsory  labour  as  to  stamp  a  general 



character  upon  society,  and  all  the  chief  characters, 
good  or  evil,  attaching  to  the  institution  of  slavery 
will  be  found  permeating  such  a  State,  whether  the 
slaves  be  directly  and  personally  attached  to  their 
masters,  only  indirectly  attached  through  the  medi- 
um of  the  State,  or  attached  in  a  third  manner 
through  their  subservience  to  corporations  or  to  par- 
ticular industries.  The  slave  so  compelled  to  labour 
will  be  one  dispossessed  of  the  means  of  production, 
and  compelled  by  law  to  labour  for  the  advantage 
of  all  or  any  who  are  possessed  thereof.  And  the 
distinguishing  mark  of  the  slave  proceeds  from  the 
special  action  upon  him  of  a  positive  law  which  first 
separates  one  body  of  men,  the  less-free,  from  an- 
other, the  more- free,  in  the  function  of  contract  with- 
in the  general  body  of  the  community. 

Now,  from  a  purely  Servile  conception  of  produc- 
tion and  of  the  arrangement  of  society  we  Europeans 
sprang.  The  Immemorial  past  of  Europe  is  a  Servile 
past.  During  some  centuries  which  theChurchraised, 
permeated,  and  constructed,  Europe  was  grad  ually  re- 
leased or  divorced  from  this  immemorial  and  funda- 
mental conception  of  slavery ;  to  that  conception,  to 
that  institution,  our  Industrial  or  Capitalist  society 
is  now  upon  its  return.  We  are  re-establishing  the 

Before  proceeding  to  the  proof  of  this,  I  shall,  in 


the  next  few  pages,  digress  to  sketch  very  briefly  the 
process  whereby  the  old  Pagan  slavery  was  trans- 
formed into  a  free  society  some  centuries  ago.  I  shall 
then  outline  the  further  process  whereby  the  new 
non-servile  society  was  wrecked  at  the  Reformation 
in  certain  areas  of  Europe,  and  particularly  in  Eng- 
land. There  was  gradually  produced  in  its  stead  the 
transitory  phase  of  society  (now  nearing  its  end) 
called  generally  Capitalism  or  the  Capitalist  State. 

Such  a  digression,  being  purely  historical,  is  not 
logically  necessary  to  a  consideration  of  our  subject, 
but  it  is  of  great  value  to  the  reader,  because  the 
knowledge  of  how,  in  reality  and  in  the  concrete, 
things  have  moved  better  enables  us  to  understand 
the  logical  process  whereby  they  tend  towards  a  par- 
ticular goal  in  the  future. 

One  could  prove  the  tendency  towards  the  Servile 
State  in  England  to-day  to  a  man  who  knew  nothing 
of  the  past  of  Europe ;  but  that  tendency  will  seem 
to  him  far  more  reasonably  probable,  far  more  a 
matter  of  experience  and  less  a  matter  of  mere  deduc- 
tion, when  he  knows  what  our  society  once  was,  and 
how  it  changed  into  what  we  know  to-day. 






European  past  we  make  our  research,  we  find,  from 
two  thousand  years  ago  upwards,  one  fundamental 
institution  whereupon  the  whole  of  society  reposes; 
that  fundamental  institution  is  Slavery. 

There  is  here  no  distinction  between  the  highly 
civilised  City-State  of  the  Mediterranean,  with  its 
letters,  its  plastic  art,  and  its  code  of  laws,  with  all 
that  makes  a  civilisation — and  this  stretching  back  far 
beyond  any  surviving  record, — there  is  here  no  dis- 
tinction between  that  civilised  body  and  the  Northern 
and  Western  societies  of  the  Celtic  tribes,  or  of  the 
little  known  hordes  that  wandered  in  the  Germanics, 
^//indifferently  reposed  upon  slavery.  It  was  a  fun- 
damental conception  of  society.  It  was  everywhere 
present,  nowhere  disputed. 

There  is  a  distinction  (or  would  appear  to  be)  be- 
tween Europeans  and  Asiatics  in  this  matter.  The 
religion  and  morals  of  the  one  so  differed  in  their 
very  origin  from  those  of  the  other  that  every  social 
institution  was  touched  by  the  contrast — and  Slavery 
among  the  rest. 

But  with  that  we  need  not  concern  ourselves.  My 
point  is  that  our  European  ancestry,  those  men  from 
whom  we  are  descended  and  whose  blood  runs  with 
little  admixture  in  our  veins,  took  slavery  for  granted, 
made  of  it  the  economic  pivot  upon  which  the  pro- 


duction  of  wealth  should  turn,  and  never  doubted 
but  that  it  was  normal  to  all  human  society. 

It  is  a  matter  of  capital  importance  to  seize  this. 

An  arrangement  of  such  a  sort  would  not  have  en- 
dured without  intermission(and  indeed  withoutques- 
tion)  for  many  centuries,  nor  have  been  found  emerg- 
ing fully  grown  from  that  vast  space  of  unrecorded 
time  during  which  barbarism  and  civilisation  flour- 
ished side  by  sidein  Europe,had  there  not  been  some- 
thing in  it,  good  or  evil,  native  to  our  blood. 

There  was  no  question  in  those  ancient  societies 
from  which  we  spring  of  making  subject  races  into 
slaves  by  the  might  of  conquering  races.  All  that  is  the 
guess-work  of  the  universities.  Not  only  is  there  no 
proof  of  it,  rather  all  the  existing  proof  is  the  other 
way.  The  Greek  had  a  Greek  slave,  the  Latin  a  Latin 
slave,  the  German  a  German  slave,  the  Celt  a  Celtic 
slave.  The  theory  that  "superior  races"  invaded  a 
land,  either  drove  out  the  original  inhabitants  or  re- 
duced them  to  slavery,  is  one  which  has  no  argument 
either  from  our  present  knowledge  of  man's  mind  or 
from  recorded  evidence.  Indeed,  the  most  striking 
feature  of  that  Servile  Basis  upon  which  Paganism 
reposed  was  the  human  equality  recognised  between 
master  and  slave.  The  master  might  kill  the  slave, 
but  both  were  of  one  race  and  each  was  human  to  the 

This  spiritual  value  was  not,  as  a  further  pernicious 



piece  of  guess-work  would  dream,  a  "  growth  "  or  a 
"  progress."  The  doctrine  of  human  equality  was  in- 
herent in  the  very  stuff  of  antiquity,  as  it  is  inherent 
in  those  societies  which  have  not  lost  tradition. 

We  may  presume  that  the  barbarian  of  the  North 
would  grasp  the  great  truth  with  less  facility  than  the 
civilised  man  of  the  Mediterranean,  because  barbar- 
ism everywhere  shows  a  retrogression  in  intellectual 
power;  but  the  proof  that  the  Servile  Institution  was 
a  social  arrangement  rather  than  a  distinction  of  type 
is  patent  fromthecoincidenceeverywhereof  Emanci- 
pation with  Slavery.  Pagan  Europe  not  only  thought 
the  existence  of  Slaves  a  natural  necessity  to  society, 
but  equally  thought  that  upon  giving  a  Slave  his 
freedom  the  enfranchised  man  would  naturally  step, 
though  perhaps  after  the  interval  of  some  lineage, 
into  the  ranks  of  free  society.  Great  poets  and  great 
artists,  statesmen  and  soldiers  were  little  troubled  by 
the  memory  of  a  servile  ancestry. 

On  the  other  hand,  there  was  a  perpetual  recruit- 
ment of  the  Servile  Institutionjust  as  there  wasa  per- 
petual emancipation  from  it,  proceeding  year  after 
year ;  and  the  natural  or  normal  method  of  recruit- 
ment is  most  clearly  apparent  to  us  in  the  simple  and 
barbaric  societies  which  the  observation  of  contem- 
porary civilised  Pagans  enables  us  to  judge. 

It  was  poverty  that  made  the  slave. 

Prisoners  of  war  taken  in  set  combat  afforded  one 
33  3 


mode  of  recruitment,  and  there  was  also  the  raiding 
of  men  by  pirates  in  the  outer  lands  and  the  selling 
of  them  in  the  slave  markets  of  the  South.  But  at 
once  the  cause  of  the  recruitment  and  the  permanent 
support  of  theinstitution  of  slavery  was  the  indigence 
of  the  man  who  sold  himself  into  slavery,  or  was  born 
into  it ;  for  it  was  a  rule  of  Pagan  Slavery  that  the 
slave  bred  theslave,and  that  even  if  one  of  the  parents 
were  free  the  offspring  was  a  slave. 

The  society  of  antiquity,  therefore,  was  normally 
divided  (as  must  at  last  be  the  society  of  any  servile 
state)  into  clearly  marked  sections:  there  was  uponthe 
one  hand  the  citizen  whohad  avoice  in  the  conductof 
the  State,  who  would  often  labour — but  labour  of  his 
own  free  will — and  who  was  normally  possessed  of 
property ;  upon  the  other  hand,  there  was  a  mass  dis- 
possessed of  the  means  of  production  and  compelled 
by  positive  law  to  labour  at  command. 

Itistruethat  in  the  further  developments  of  society 
the  accumulation  of  private  savings  by  a  slave  was 
tolerated  and  that  slaves  so  favoured  did  sometimes 
purchase  their  freedom. 

It  is  further  true  that  in  the  confusion  of  the  last 
generations  of  Paganism  there  arose  in  some  of  the 
great  cities  a  considerable  class  of  men  who,  though 
free,  were  dispossessed  of  the  means  of  production. 
But  these  last  never  existed  in  a  sufficient  propor- 
tion to  stamp  the  whole  State  of  society  with  a  char- 



acter  drawn  from  their  proletarian  circumstance.  To 
the  end  the  Pagan  world  remained  a  world  of  free 
proprietors  possessed,  in  various  degrees,  of  the  land 
and  of  the  capital  whereby  wealth  may  be  produced, 
and  applying  to  that  land  and  capital  for  the  pur- 
pose of  producing  wealth,  compulsory  labour. 

Certain  features  in  that  original  Servile  State  from 
which  we  all  spring  should  be  carefully  noted  by  way 
of  conclusion. 

First,  though  all  nowadays  contrast  slavery  with 
freedom  to  the  advantage  of  the  latter,  yet  men  then 
accepted  slavery  freely  as  an  alternative  to  indigence. 

Secondly  (and  this  is  most  important  for  our  judg- 
ment of  the  Servile  Institution  as  a  whole,  and  of  the 
chances  of  its  return),  in  all  those  centuries  we  find 
no  organised  effort,  nor  (what  is  still  more  significant) 
do  we  find  any  complaint  of  conscience  against  the  in- 
stitution which  condemned  the  bulk  of  human  beings 
to  forced  labour. 

Slaves  may  be  found  in  the  literary  exercises  of  the 
time  bewailing  their  lot — and  joking  about  it ;  some 
philosophers  will  complain  that  an  ideal  societyshould 
contain  no  slaves ;  others  will  excuse  the  establish- 
ment of  slavery  upon  this  plea  or  that,  while  granting 
that  it  offends  the  dignity  of  man.  The  greater  part 
will  argue  of  the  State  that  it  is  necessarily  Servile. 
But  no  one,  slave  or  free,  dreams  of  abolishing  or 
even  of  changing  the  thing.  You  have  no  martyrs  for 


the  case  of  "  freedom  "  as  against "  slavery."  The  so- 
called  Servile  wars  are  the  resistance  on  the  part  of 
escaped  slaves  to  any  attempt  at  recapture,  but  they 
are  not  accompanied  by  an  accepted  affirmation  that 
servitudeisan  intolerable  thing;  noristhatnotestruck 
at  all  from  the  unknown  beginnings  to  the  Catho- 
lic endings  of  the  Pagan  world.  Slavery  is  irksome, 
undignified,  woeful ;  but  it  is,  to  them,  of  the  nature 
of  things. 

You  may  say,  to  be  brief,  that  this  arrangement 
of  society  was  the  very  air  which  Pagan  Antiquity 

Its  great  works,  its  leisure  and  its  domestic  life, 
its  humour,  its  reserves  of  power,  all  depend  upon  the 
fact  that  its  society  was  that  of  the  Servile  State. 

Men  were  happy  in  that  arrangement,  or,  at  least, 
as  happy  as  men  ever  are. 

The  attempt  to  escape  by  a  personal  effort,  whether 
of  thrift,  of  adventure,  or  of  flattery  to  a  master,  from 
the  Servile  condition  had  never  even  so  much  of  driv- 
ing power  behind  it  as  the  attempt  manyshowto-day 
to  escape  from  the  rank  of  wage-earners  to  those  of 
employers.  Servitude  did  not  seem  a  hell  into  which 
a  man  would  rather  die  than  sink,  or  out  of  which 
at  any  sacrifice  whatsoever  a  man  would  raise  him- 
self. It  was  a  condition  accepted  by  those  who  suf- 
fered it  as  much  as  by  those  who  enjoyed  it,  and  a  per- 
fectly necessary  part  of  all  that  men  did  and  thought. 



You  find  no  barbarian  from  some  free  place  aston- 
ished at  the  institution  of  Slavery  ;  you  find  no  Slave 
pointing  to  a  society  in  which  Slavery  was  unknown 
as  towards  a  happier  land.  To  our  ancestors  not  only 
for  those  few  centuries  during  which  we  have  record 
of  their  actions,  but  apparently  during  an  illimitable 
past,  the  division  of  society  into  those  who  must  work 
under  compulsion  and  those  who  would  benefit  by 
their  labour  was  the  very  plan  of  the  State — apart 
from  which  they  could  hardly  think  of  society  as 
existing  at  all. 

Let  all  this  be  clearly  grasped.  It  is  fundamental 
to  an  understanding  of  the  problem  before  us.  Slav- 
ery is  no  novel  experience  in  the  history  of  Europe; 
nor  is  one  suffering  an  odd  dream  when  one  talks  of 
Slavery  as  acceptable  to  European  men.  Slavery 
was  of  the  very  stuff  of  Europe  for  thousands  upon 
thousands  of  years,  until  Europe  engaged  upon  that 
considerable  moral  experiment  called  The  Faith, 
which  many  believe  to  be  now  accomplished  and  dis- 
carded, and  in  the  failure  of  which  it  would  seem  that 
the  old  and  primary  institution  of  Slavery  must  return. 

For  there  came  upon  us  Europeans  after  all  those 
centuries,  and  centuriesof  a  settled  social  order  which 
was  erected  upon  Slavery  as  upon  a  sure  foundation, 
the  experiment  called  the  Christian  Church. 

Among  the  by-products  of  this  experiment,  very 
slowly  emerging  from  the  old  Pagan  world,  and  not 


long  completed  before  Christendom  itself  suffered 
a  shipwreck,  was  the  exceedingly  gradual  transfor- 
mation of  the  Servile  State  into  something  other : 
a  society  of  owners.  And  how  that  something  other 
did  proceed  from  the  Pagan  Servile  State  I  will  next 





disappeared  among  Christian  men,  though  very  leng- 
thy in  its  development  (it  covered  close  upon  a  thou- 
sand years),  and  though  exceedingly  complicated  in 
its  detail,  may  be  easily  and  briefly  grasped  in  its  main 

Let  it  first  be  clearly  understood  that  the  vast  re- 
volution through  which  the  European  mind  passed 
bet  ween  the  first  and  the  fourth  centuries  (that  revolu- 
tion which  is  often  termed  the  Conversion  of  the  World 
to  Christianity,  but  which  should  for  purposes  of  his- 
torical accuracy  be  called  the  Growth  of  the  Church) 
included  no  attack  upon  the  Servile  Institution. 

No  dogma  of  the  Church  pronounced  Slavery  to 
be  immoral,  or  the  sale  and  purchase  of  men  to  be  a 
sin,  or  the  imposition  of  compulsory  labour  upon  a 
Christian  to  be  a  contravention  of  any  human  right. 

The  emancipation  of  Slaves  was  indeed  regarded 
asagood  work  by  the  Faithful :  but  so  was  it  regarded 
by  the  Pagan.  It  was,  on  the  face  of  it,  a  service  ren- 
dered to  one's  fellowmen.  The  sale  of  Christians  to 
Pagan  masters  was  abhorrent  to  the  later  empire  of 
the  Barbarian  Invasions,  not  because  slavery  in  itself 
was  condemned,  but  because  it  was  a  sort  of  treason 
to  civilisation  to  force  men  away  from  Civilisation  to 
Barbarism.  In  general  you  will  discover  no  pronounce- 


ment  against  slavery  as  an  institution,  nor  any  moral 
definition  attacking  it,  throughout  all  those  early 
Christian  centuries  during  which  it  none  the  less 
effectively  disappears. 

The  form  of  its  disappearance  is  well  worth  noting. 
It  begins  with  the  establishment  as  the  fundamental 
unit  of  production  in  Western  Europe  of  those  great 
landed  estates, commonly  lying  in  thehandsof  asingle 
proprietor,  and  generally  known  as  VlLL/E. 

There  were,  of  course,  many  other  forms  of  human 
agglomeration:  small  peasant  farms  owned  in  absol- 
ute proprietorship  by  their  petty  masters ;  groups  of 
free  men  associated  in  what  was  called  a  Vicus\  manu- 
factories in  which  groups  of  slaves  were  industrially 
organised  to  the  profit  of  their  master;  and, govern-, 
ing  the  regions  around  them,  the  scheme  of  Roman 

But  of  all  these  the  Fz7/flwas  the  dominating  type ; 
and  as  society  passed  from  the  high  civilisation  of 
the  first  four  centuries  into  the  simplicity  of  the  Dark 
Ages,  the  Villa,  the  unit  of  agricultural  production, 
became  more  and  more  the  model  of  all  society. 

Now  the  Villa  began  as  a  considerable  extent  of 
land,containing,likeamodern English  estate, pasture, 
arable,  water,  wood  and  heath,  or  waste  land.  It  was 
owned  byadomznusortordmaibsolute  proprietorship, 
to  sell,  or  leave  by  will,  to  do  with  it  whatsoever  he 
chose.  It  was  cultivated  for  him  by  Slaves  to  whom 



he  owed  nothing  in  return,  and  whom  it  was  simply 
his  interest  to  keep  alive  and  to  continue  breeding  in 
order  that  they  might  perpetuate  his  wealth. 

I  concentrate  particularly  upon  these  Slaves,  the 
great  majority  of  the  human  beings  inhabiting  the 
land,  because,  although  there  arose  in  the  Dark  Ages, 
when  the  Roman  Empire  was  passing  intothe  society 
of  the  Middle  Ages,  other  social  elements  within  the 
Villa — the  Freed  men  who  owed  the  lord  a  modified 
service,  and  even  occasionally  independent  citizens 
present  through  a  contract  terminable  and  freely  en- 
tered into — yet  it  is  the  Slave  who  is  the  mark  of  all 
that  society. 

At  its  origin,  then,  the  Roman  Villa  was  a  piece  of 
absolute  property,  the  production  of  wealth  upon 
which  was  due  to  the  application  of  slave  labour  to 
the  natural  resources  of  the  place ;  and  that  slave 
labour  was  as  much  the  property  of  the  lord  as  was 
the  land  itself. 

The  first  modification  which  this  arrangement 
showed  in  the  new  society  which  accompanied  the 
growth andestablishment  of  theChurchin  the  Roman 
world,  was  a  sort  of  customary  rule  which  modified 
the  old  arbitrary  position  of  the  Slave. 

The  Slave  was  still  a  Slave,  but  it  was  both  more 
convenient  in  thedecay  of  communicationsandpublic 
power,  and  more  consonant  with  the  social  spirit  of 
the  time  to  make  sure  of  that  Slave's  produce  by  ask- 


ing  him  for  no  more  than  certain  customary  dues. 
The  Slave  and  his  descendants  became  more  or  less 
rooted  to  one  spot.  Some  were  still  bought  and  sold, 
but  in  decreasing  numbers.  As  the  generations  pass- 
ed a  larger  and  a  larger  proportion  lived  where  and 
as  their  fathers  had  lived,  and  the  produce  which 
they  raised  was  fixed  more  and  more  at  a  certain  a- 
mount,  which  the  lord  was  content  to  receive  and  ask 
no  more.  The  arrangement  was  made  workable  by 
leaving  to  the  Slave  all  the  remaining  produce  of  his 
own  labour.  There  was  asort  of  implied  bargain  here, 
in  the  absence  of  public  powers  and  in  the  decline  of 
the  old  highly  centralised  and  vigorous  system  which 
could  always  guarantee  to  the  master  the  full  product 
of  the  Slave's  effort.  The  bargain  implied  was,  that 
if  the  Slave  Community  of  the  Villa  would  produce 
for  the  benefit  of  its  Lord  not  less  than  a  certain  cus- 
tomary amount  of  goods  from  the  soil  of  the  Villa, 
the  Lord  could  count  on  their  always  exercising  that 
effort  by  leaving  to  them  all  the  surplus,  which  they 
could  increase,  if  they  willed,  indefinitely. 

By  the  ninth  century,  when  this  process  had  been 
gradually  at  work  for  a  matter  of  some  three  hundred 
years,  one  fixed  form  of  productive  unit  began  to  be 
apparent  throughout  Western  Christendom. 

The  old  absolutely  owned  estate  had  come  to  be 
divided  into  three  portions.  One  of  these  was  pasture 
and  arable  land,  reserved  privately  to  the  lord,  and 



called  domain  :  that  is,  lord's  land.  Another  was  in 
the  occupation,  and  already  almost  in  the  possession 
(practically,  thoughnotlegally),of  those  whohad  once 
been  Slaves.  A  third  was  common  land  over  which 
both  the  Lord  and  the  Slave  exercised  each  their  var- 
ious rights,  which  rights  were  minutely  remembered 
and  held  sacred  by  custom.  For  instance,  in  a  certain 
village,  if  there  was  beech  pasture  for  three  hundred 
swine,  the  lord  might  put  in  but  fifty  :  two  hundred 
and  fifty  were  the  rights  of  the  "  village." 

Upon  the  first  of  these  portions,  Domain,  wealth 
was  produced  by  the  obedience  of  the  Slave  for  cer- 
tain fixed  hours  of  labour.  He  must  come  so  many 
days  a  week,  or  upon  such  and  such  occasions  (all 
fixed  and  customary),  to  till  the  land  of  the  Domain 
for  his  Lord,  and  all  the  produce  of  this  must  be  hand- 
ed over  to  the  Lord — though,  of  course,  a  daily  wage 
in  kind  was  allowed,  for  the  labourer  must  live. 

Upon  the  second  portion,  "  Land  in  Villenage," 
which  was  nearly  always  the  most  of  the  arable  and 
pasture  land  of  the  Villa,  the  Slaves  worked  by  rules 
and  customs  which  they  gradually  came  to  elaborate 
for  themselves.  They  worked  under  an  officer  of  their 
own,  sometimes  nominated, sometimes  elected:  near- 
ly always,  in  practice,  a  man  suitable  to  them  and  more 
or  less  of  their  choice  ;  though  this  co-operative  work 
upon  the  old  Slave-ground  was  controlled  by  the 
general  customs  of  the  village,  common  to  lord  and 


slave  alike,  and  the  principal  officer  over  both  kinds 
of  land  was  the  Lord's  Steward. 

Of  the  wealth  so  produced  by  the  Slaves,  a  certain 
fixed  portion  (estimated  originally  in  kind)  was  pay- 
able to  the  Lord's  Bailiff,  and  became  the  property 
of  the  Lord. 

Finally,  on  the  third  division  of  the  land,  the 
"Waste,"  the  "Wood,"  the  "Heath,"  and  certain  com- 
mon pastures,  wealth  was  produced  as  elsewhere  by 
the  labour  of  those  who  had  once  been  the  Slaves, 
but  divided  in  customary  proportions  between  them 
and  their  master.  Thus,  such  and  such  a  water  mea- 
dow would  have  grazing  for  so  many  oxen  ;  the  num- 
ber was  rigidly  defined,  and  of  that  number  so  many 
would  be  the  Lord's  and  so  many  the  Villagers'.  > 

During  the  eighth,  ninth  and  tenth  centuries  this 
system  crystallised  and  became  so  natural  in  men's 
eyes  that  the  original  servile  character  of  the  working 
folk  upon  the  Villa  was  forgotten. 

The  documents  of  the  time  are  rare.  These  three 
centuries  are  the  crucible  of  Europe,  and  record  is 
drowned  and  burnt  in  them.  Our  study  of  their  so- 
cial conditions,  especially  in  the  latter  part,  are  mat- 
ter rather  of  inference  than  of  direct  evidence.  But 
the  sale  and  purchase  of  men,  already  exceptional  at 
the  beginning  of  this  almost  unknown  be- 
fore the  end  of  it.  Apart  from  domestic  slaves  with- 
in the  household, slavery  in  the  old  sense  which  Pagan 



antiquity  gave  that  institution  had  been  transformed 
out  of  all  knowledge,  and  when,  with  the  eleventh 
century,  the  true  Middle  Ages  begin  to  spring  from 
the  soil  of  the  Dark  Ages,  and  a  new  civilisation  to 
arise,  though  the  old  word  servus(ihe  Latin  for  a  slave) 
is  still  used  for  the  man  who  works  the  soil,  his  status 
in  the  now  increasing  number  of  documents  which  we 
can  consult  is  wholly  changed  ;  we  can  certainly  no 
longer  translate  the  word  by  the  English  word  slave; 
we  are  compelled  to  translate  it  by  a  new  word  with 
very  different  connotations  :  the  word  serf. 

The  Serf  of  the  early  Middle  Ages,  of  the  eleventh 
and  early  twelfth  centuries,  of  the  Crusades  and 
the  Norman  Conquest,  is  already  nearly  a  peasant. 
He  is  indeed  bound  in  legal  theory  to  the  soil  upon 
which  he  was  born.  In  social  practice,  all  that  is  re- 
quired of  him  is  that  his  family  should  till  its  quota 
of  servile  land,  and  that  the  dues  to  the  lord  shall 
not  fail  from  absence  of  labour.  That  duty  fulfilled, 
it  is  easy  and  common  for  members  of  the  serf-class 
to  enter  the  professions  and  the  Church,  or  to  go 
wild ;  to  become  men  practically  free  in  the  grow- 
ing industries  of  the  towns.  With  every  passing 
generation  the  ancient  servile  conception  of  the  lab- 
ourer's status  grows  more  and  more  dim,  and  the 
Courts  and  the  practice  of  society  treat  him  more  and 
more  as  a  man  strictly  bound  to  certain  dues  and  to 
certain  periodical  labour  within  his  industrial  unit, 


but  in  all  other  respects  free. 

As  the  civilisation  of  the  Middle  Ages  develops,  as 
wealth  increases  and  the  arts  progressively  flourish, 
this  character  of  freedom  becomes  more  marked.  In 
spite  of  attempts  in  time  of  scarcity  (as  after  a  plague) 
to  insist  upon  the  old  rights  to  compulsory  labour,  the 
habitof  commutingthese  rights  for  money-payments 
and  dues  has  grown  too  strong  to  be  resisted. 

If  at  the  end  of  the  fourteenth  century,  let  us  say, 
or  at  the  beginning  of  the  fifteenth,  you  had  visited 
some  Squire  upon  his  estate  in  France  or  in  England, 
he  would  have  told  you  of  the  whole  of  it,  "  These 
are  my  lands."  But  the  peasant  (as  he  now  was) 
would  have  said  also  of  his  holding,  "  This  is  my 
land."  He  could  not  be  evicted  from  it.  The  dues 
which  he  was  customarily  bound  to  pay  were  but  a 
fraction  of  its  total  produce.  He  could  not  always 
sell  it,  but  it  was  always  inheritable  from  father  to 
son  ;  and,  in  general,  at  the  close  of  this  long  process 
of  a  thousand  years  the  Slave  had  become  a  free  man 
for  all  the  ordinary  purposes  of  society.  He  bought 
and  sold.  He  saved  as  he  willed,  he  invested, he  built, 
he  drained  at  his  discretion,  and  if  he  improved  the 
land  it  was  to  his  own  profit. 

Meanwhile,  side  by  side  with  this  emancipation  of 
mankind  in  the  direct  line  of  descent  from  the  old 
chattel  slaves  of  the  Roman  villa  went,  in  the  Middle 
Ages,  a  crowd  of  institutions  which  all  similarly  made 



for  a  distribution  of  property,  and  for  the  destruction 
of  even  the  fossil  remnants  of  a  then  forgotten  Servile 
State.  Thus  industry  of  every  kind  in  the  towns,  in 
transport,  in  crafts,  and  in  commerce,  was  organised 
intheform  of  Guilds.  And  a  Guild  was  asociety  part- 
ly co-operative,  but  in  the  main  composed  of  private 
owners  of  capital  whose  corporation  was  self-govern- 
ing, and  was  designed  to  check  competition  between 
its  members  :  to  prevent  the  growth  of  one  at  the  ex- 
pense of  the  other.  Above  all,  most  jealously  did  the 
Guild  safeguard  the  division  of  property,  so  that 
there  should  be  formed  within  its  ranks  no  proletariat 
upon  the  one  side,  and  no  monopolising  capitalist 
upon  the  other. 

There  was  a  period  of  apprenticeship  at  a  man's 
entry  into  a  Guild,  during  which  he  worked  for  a 
master  ;  but  in  time  he  became  a  master  in  his  turn. 
The  existence  of  such  corporations  as  the  normal 
units  of  industrial  production,  of  commercial  effort, 
and  of  the  means  of  transport,  is  proof  enough  of  what 
the  social  spirit  was  which  had  also  enfranchised  the 
labourer  upon  the  land.  And  while  such  institutions 
flourished  side  by  side  with  the  no  longer  servile 
village  communities,  freehold  or  absolute  possession 
of  the  soil,  as  distinguished  from  the  tenure  of  the 
serf  under  the  lord,  also  increased. 

These  three  forms  under  which  labour  was  exer- 
cised— the  serf,  secure  in  his  position,  and  burdened 
49  4 


only  with  regular  dues,  which  were  but  a  fraction  of 
his  produce ;  the  freeholder,  a  man  independent  save 
for  money  dues,  which  were  more  of  a  tax  than  a  rent; 
the  Guild,  in  which  well-divided  capital  worked  co- 
operatively for  craft  production,  for  transport  and  for 
commerce — all  three  between  them  were  making  for 
a  society  which  should  be  based  upon  the  principle  of 
property.  All,  or  most, — the  normal  family — should 
own.  And  on  ownership  the  freedom  of  the  State 
should  repose. 

The  State,  as  the  minds  of  men  envisaged  it  at  the 
close  of  this  process,  was  an  agglomeration  of  families 
of  varying  wealth,  but  by  far  the  greater  number 
owners  of  the  means  of  production.  It  was  an  agglo- 
meration in  which  the  stability  of  this  distributive 
system  (as  I  have  called  it)  was  guaranteed  by  the 
existence  of  co-operative  bodies,  binding  men  of  the 
same  craft  or  of  the  same  village  together  ;  guaran- 
teeing the  small  proprietor  against  loss  of  his  econo- 
mic independence,  while  at  the  same  time  it  guaran- 
teed society  against  the  growth  of  a  proletariat.  If 
liberty  of  purchase  and  of  sale,  of  mortgage  and  of 
inheritance  was  restricted,  it  was  restricted  with  the 
social  object  of  preventing  the  growth  of  an  economic 
oligarchy  which  could  exploit  the  rest  of  the  com- 
munity. The  restraints  upon  liberty  were  restraints 
designed  for  the  preservation  of  liberty  ;  and  every 
action  of  Mediaeval  Society,  from  the  flower  of  the 



Middle  Ages  to  the  approach  of  their  catastrophe, 
was  directed  towards  the  establishment  of  a  State  in 
which  men  should  be  economically  free  through  the 
possession  of  capital  and  of  land. 

Save  here  and  there  in  legal  formulae,  or  in  rare 
patches  isolated  and  eccentric, the  Servile  Institution 
had  totally  disappeared;  normust  it  be  imagined  that 
anything  in  the  nature  of  Collectivism  had  replaced 
it.  There  was  common  land,  but  it  was  common  land 
jealously  guarded  by  men  who  were  also  personal  pro- 
prietors of  other  land.  Common  property  in  the  vil- 
lage was  but  one  of  the  forms  of  property,  and  was 
used  rather  as  the  fly-wheel  to  preserve  the  regularity 
of  the  co-operative  machine  than  as  a  type  of  holding 
in  any  way  peculiarly  sacred.  The  Guilds  had  pro- 
perty in  common,  but  that  property  was  the  property 
necessary  to  their  co-operative  life,  their  Halls,  their 
Funds  for  Relief,  their  Religious  Endowments.  As 
for  the  instruments  of  their  trades,  those  instruments 
were  owned  by  the  individual  members,  not  by  the 
guild,  save  where  they  were  of  so  expensive  a  kind  as 
to  necessitate  a  corporate  control. 

Such  was  the  transformation  which  had  come  over 
European  society  in  the  courseof  ten  Christian  centur- 
ies. Slavery  had  gone,  and  in  itsplace  had  come  that 
establishment  of  free  possession  whichseemedsonor- 
mal  to  men,  and  so  consonant  to  a  happy  human  life. 
No  particular  name  was  then  found  for  it.  To-day, 


and  now  that  it  has  disappeared,  we  must  construct 
an  awkward  one,  and  say  that  the  Middle  Ages  had 
instinctively  conceived  and  brought  into  existence 

That  excellent  consummation  of  human  society 
passed,  as  we  know,  and  was  in  certain  Provinces  of 
Europe,  but  more  particularly  in  Britain,  destroyed. 

For  a  society  in  which  the  determinant  mass  of 
families  were  owners  of  capital  and  of  land;  for  one 
in  which  production  was  regulated  by  self-governing 
corporations  of  small  owners ;  an4  for  one  in  which 
the  misery  and  insecurity  of  a  proletariat  was  un- 
known, there  came  to  be  substituted  the  dreadful 
moral  anarchy  against  which  all  moral  effort  is  now 
turned,  and  which  goes  by  the  name  of  Capitalism. 

How  did  such  a  catastrophe  come  about  ?  Why 
was  it  permitted,  and  upon  what  historical  process 
did  the  evil  batten  ?  What  turned  an  England  eco- 
nomically free  into  the  England  which  we  know  to- 
day, of  which  at  least  one-third  is  indigent,  of  which 
nineteen-twentieths  are  dispossessed  of  capital  and 
of  land,  and  of  which  the  whole  industry  and  national 
life  is  controlled  upon  its  economic  side  by  a  few 
chance  directors  of  millions,  a  few  masters  of  unsocial 
and  irresponsible  monopolies  ? 

The  answer  most  usually  given  to  this  fundamental 
question  in  our  history,  and  the  one  most  readily  ac- 
cepted, is  that  this  misfortune  came  about  through  a 



material  process  known  as  the  Industrial  Revolution. 
The  use  of  expensive  machinery,  the  concentration 
of  industry  and  of  its  implements  are  imagined  to 
have  enslaved,  in  some  blind  way,  apart  from  the 
human  will,  the  action  of  English  mankind. 

The  explanation  is  wholly  false.  No  such  material 
cause  determined  the  degradation  from  which  we 

It  was  the  deliberate  action  of  men,  evil  will  in  a 
few  and  apathy  of  will  among  the  many,  which  pro- 
duced a  catastrophe  as  human  in  its  causes  and  in- 
ception as  in  its  vile  effect. 

Capitalism  was  not  the  growth  of  the  industrial 
movement,  nor  of  chance  material  discoveries.  A 
little  acquaintance  with  history  and  a  little  straight- 
forwardness in  the  teaching  of  it  would  be  enough 
to  prove  that. 

The  Industrial  System  was  a  growth  proceeding 
from  Capitalism,  not  its  cause.  Capitalism  was  here 
in  England  before  the  Industrial  System  came  into 
being ; — before  the  use  of  coal  and  of  the  new  ex- 
pensive machinery,  and  of  the  concentration  of  the 
implements  of  production  in  the  great  towns.  Had 
Capitalism  not  been  present  before  the  Industrial 
Revolution,  that  revolution  might  have  proved  as 
beneficent  to  Englishmen  as  it  has  proved  malefi- 
cent. But  Capitalism — that  is,  the  ownership  by  a 
few  of  the  springs  of  life — was  present  long  before  the 


great  discoveries  came.  It  warped  the  effect  of  these 
discoveries  and  new  inventions,  and  it  turned  them 
from  a  good  into  an  evil  thing.  It  was  not  machinery 
that  lost  us  our  freedom ;  it  was  the  loss  of  a  free 





the  societies  of  Western  Christendom  and  England 
among  the  rest  were  economically  free. 

Property  was  an  institution  native  to  the  State  and 
enjoyed  by  the  great  mass  of  its  citizens.  Co-opera- 
tive institutions,  voluntary  regulations  of  labour,  re- 
stricted the  completely  independent  use  of  property 
by  its  owners  only  in  order  to  keep  that  institution 
intactandto  prevent  the  absorption  of  small  property 
by  great. 

This  excellent  state  of  affairs  which  we  had  reached 
after  many  centuries  of  Christian  development,  and 
in  which  the  old  institution  of  slavery  had  been  finally 
eliminated  from  Christendom,  did  not  everywhere 
survive.  In  England  in  particular  it  was  ruined.  The 
seeds  of  the  disaster  were  sown  in  the  sixteenth  cen- 
tury. Its  first  apparent  effects  came  to  light  in  the 
seventeenth.  During  the  eighteenth  century  Eng- 
land came  to  be  finally,  though  insecurely,  establish- 
ed upon  a  proletarian  basis,  that  is,  it  had  already  be- 
come a  society  of  rich  men  possessed  of  the  means 
of  production  on  the  one  hand,  and  a  majority  dis- 
possessed of  those  means  upon  the  other.  With  the 
nineteenth  century  the  evil  plant  had  come  to  its 
maturity,  and  England  had  become  before  the  close 
of  that  period  a  purely  Capitalist  State,  the  type 
and  model  of  Capitalism  for  the  whole  world  :  with 


the  means  of  production  tightly  held  by  a  very  small 
group  of  citizens,  and  the  whole  determining  mass 
of  the  nation  dispossessed  of  capital  and  land,  and 
dispossessed,  therefore,  in  all  cases  of  security,  and 
in  many  of  sufficiency  as  well.  The  mass  of  English- 
men, still  possessed  of  political,  lacked  more  and 
more  the  elements  of  economic,  freedom,  and  were  in 
a  worse  posture  than  free  citizens  have  ever  found 
themselves  before  in  the  history  of  Europe. 

By  what  steps  did  so  enormous  a  catastrophe  fall 
upon  us? 

The  first  step  in  the  process  consisted  in  the  mis- 
handling of  a  great  economic  revolution  which  mark- 
ed the  sixteenth  century.  The  lands  and  the  accumu- 
lated wealth  of  the  monasteries  were  taken  out  of, 
the  hands  of  their  old  possessors  with  the  intention 
of  vesting  them  in  the  Crown — but  they  passed,  as 
a  fact,  not  into  the  hands  of  the  Crown,  but  into  the 
hands  of  an  already  wealthy  section  of  thecommunity 
who,  after  the  change  was  complete,  became  in  the 
succeeding  hundred  years  the  governing  power  of 

This  is  what  happened  : — 

The  England  of  the  early  sixteenth  century,  the 
England  over  which  Henry  VIII.  inherited  his  power- 
ful Crown  in  youth,  though  it  was  an  England  in 
which  the  great  mass  of  men  owned  the  land  they 
tilled  and  the  houses  in  which  they  dwelt,  and  the  im- 



plements  with  which  they  worked,  was  yet  an  Eng- 
land in  which  these  goods,  though  widely  distributed, 
were  distributed  unequally. 

Then,  as  now, the  soil  and  its  fixtures  werethe  basis 
of  all  wealth,  but  the  proportion  between  the  value  of 
the  soil  and  its  fixtures  and  the  value  of  other  means 
of  production  (implements,  stores  of  clothing  and  of 
subsistence,  etc.)  was  different  from  what  it  is  now. 
The  land  and  the  fixtures  upon  it  formed  a  very  much 
larger  fraction  of  the  totality  of  the  means  of  produc- 
tion than  they  do  to-day.  They  represent  to-day  not 
one-half  the  total  means  of  production  of  this  country, 
and  though  they  are  the  necessary  foundation  for  all 
wealth  production,  yet  our  great  machines,  our  stores 
of  food  and  clothing,  our  coal  and  oil,  our  ships  and 
the  rest  of  it,  come  to  more  than  the  true  value  of 
the  land  and  of  the  fixtures  upon  the  land :  they  come 
to  more  than  the  arable  soil  and  the  pasture,  the  con- 
structional valueof  the  houses,  wharves  anddocks,and 
so  forth.  In  the  early  sixteenth  century  the  land  and 
the  fixtures  upon  it  came,  upon  the  contrary,  to  very 
much  more  than  all  other  forms  of  wealth  combined. 

Now  this  form  of  wealth  was  here,  more  than  in 
any  other  Western  European  country,  already  in  the 
hands  of  a  wealthy  land-owning  class  at  the  end  of 
the  Middle  Ages. 

It  is  impossible  to  give  exact  statistics,  because 
none  were  gathered,  and  we  can  only  make  general 


statements  based  upon  inference  and  research.  But, 
roughly  speaking,  we  may  say  that  of  the  total  value 
of  the  land  and  its  fixtures,  probably  rather  more 
than  a  quarter,  though  less  than  a  third,  was  in  the 
hands  of  this  wealthy  class. 

The  England  of  that  day  was  mainly  agricultural, 
and  consisted  of  more  than  four,  but  less  than  six 
million  people,  and  in  every  agricultural  community 
you  would  have  the  Lord,  as  he  was  legally  called  (the 
squire,  as  he  was  already  conversationally  termed), 
in  possession  of  more  demesne  land  than  in  any 
other  country.  On  the  average  you  found  him,  I  say, 
owning  in  this  absolute  fashion  rather  more  than  a 
quarter,  perhaps  a  third  of  the  land  of  the  village : 
in  the  towns  the  distribution  was  more  even.  Some- 
times it  was  a  private  individual  who  was  in  this  posi- 
tion, sometimes  a  corporation,  but  in  every  village 
you  would  have  found  this  demesne  land  absolutely 
owned  by  the  political  head  of  the  village,  occupying 
a  considerable  proportion  of  its  acreage.  The  rest, 
though  distributed  as  property  among  the  less  for- 
tunate of  the  population,  and  carrying  with  it  houses 
and  implements  from  which  they  could  not  be  dis- 
possessed, paid  certain  dues  to  the  Lord,  and,  what 
was  more,  the  Lord  exercised  local  justice.  This  class 
of  wealthy  land-owners  had  been  also  for  now  one 
hundred  years  the  Justices  upon  whom  local  ad- 
ministration depended. 



There  was  no  reason  why  this  state  of  affairs  should 
not  gradually  have  led  to  the  rise  of  the  Peasant 
and  the  decay  of  the  Lord.  That  is  what  happened 
in  France,  and  it  might  perfectly  well  have  happened 
here.  A  peasantry  eager  to  purchase  might  have 
gradually  extended  their  holdings  at  the  expense  of 
the  demesne  land,  and  to  the  distribution  of  property, 
which  was  already  fairly  complete,  there  might  have 
been  added  another  excellent  element,  namely,  the 
more  equal  possession  of  that  property.  But  any 
such  process  of  gradual  buying  by  the  small  man 
from  the  great,  such  as  would  seem  natural  to  the 
temper  of  us  European  people,  and  such  as  has  since 
taken  place  nearly  everywhere  in  countries  which 
were  left  free  to  act  upon  their  popular  instincts,  was 
interrupted  in  this  country  by  an  artificial  revolution 
of  the  most  violent  kind.  This  artificial  revolution 
consisted  in  the  seizing  of  the  monastic  lands  by  the 

It  is  important  to  grasp  clearly  the  nature  of  this 
operation,  for  the  whole  economic  future  of  England 
was  to  flow  from  it. 

Of  the  demesne  lands,  and  the  power  of  local  ad- 
ministration which  they  carried  with  them  (a  very 
important  feature,  as  we  shall  see  later),  rather  more 
than  a  quarter  were  in  the  hands  of  the  Church  ;  the 
Church  was  therefore  the  "Lord  "of  something  over 
25  per  cent,  say  28  per  cent,  or  perhaps  nearly  30 


per  cent.,  of  English  agricultural  communities,  and 
the  overseers  of  a  like  proportion  of  all  English  agri- 
cultural produce.  The  Church  was  further  the  ab- 
solute owner  in  practice  of  something  like  30  per 
cent,  of  the  demesne  land  in  the  villages,  and  the  re- 
ceiver of  something  like  30  per  cent,  of  the  custom- 
ary dues,  etc.,  paid  by  the  smaller  owners  to  the 
greater.  All  this  economic  power  lay  until  1535  in 
the  hands  of  Cathedral  Chapters,  communities  of 
monks  and  nuns,  educational  establishments  con- 
ducted by  the  clergy,  and  so  forth. 

When  the  Monastic  lands  were  confiscated  by 
Henry  VIII.,  not  the  whole  of  this  vast  economic 
influence  was  suddenly  extinguished.  The  secular 
clergy  remained  endowed,  and  most  of  the  educa-, 
tional  establishments,  though  looted,  retained  some 
revenue ;  but  though  the  whole  30  per  cent  did  not 
suffer  confiscation,  something  well  over  20  per  cent, 
did,  and  the  revolution  effected  by  this  vast  opera- 
tion was  by  far  the  most  complete,  the  most  sudden, 
and  the  most  momentous  of  any  that  has  taken  place 
in  the  economic  history  of  any  European  people. 

It  was  at  first  intended  \.Q  retain  this  great  mass  of 
the  means  of  production  in  the  hands  of  the  Crown  : 
that  must  be  clearly  remembered  by  any  student  of 
the  fortunes  of  England,  and  by  all  who  marvel  at  the 
contrast  between  the  old  England  and  the  new. 

Had  that  intention  been  firmly  maintained,  the 



English  State  and  its  government  would  have  been 
the  most  powerful  in  Europe. 

The  Executive  (which  in  those  days  meant  the 
King)  would  have  had  a  greater  opportunity  for  crush- 
ing the  resistance  of  the  wealthy,  for  backing  its 
political  power  with  economic  power,  and  for  order- 
ing the  social  life  of  its  subjects  than  any  other  ex- 
ecutive in  Christendom. 

Had  Henry  VIII.  and  his  successors  kept  the  land 
thus  confiscated,  the  power  of  the  French  Monarchy, 
at  which  we  are  astonished,  would  have  been  nothing 
to  the  power  of  the  English. 

The  King  of  England  would  have  had  in  his  own 
hands  an  instrument  of  control  of  the  most  absolute 
sort.  He  would  presumably  have  used  it,  as  a  strong 
central  government  always  does,  for  the  weakening 
of  the  wealthier  classes,  and  to  the  indirect  advantage 
of  the  mass  of  the  people.  At  any  rate,  it  would  have 
been  a  very  different  England  indeed  from  the  Eng- 
land we  know,  if  the  King  had  held  fast  to  his  own 
after  the  dissolution  of  the  monasteries. 

Now  it  is  precisely  here  that  the  capital  point  in 
this  great  revolution  appears.  The  King  failed  to 
keep  the  lands  he  had  seized.  That  class  of  large  land- 
owners which  already  existed  and  controlled,  as  I 
have  said,  anything  from  a  quarter  to  a  third  of  the 
agricultural  values  of  England,  were  too  strong  for 
the  monarchy.  They  insisted  upon  land  being  granted 


to  themselves,  sometimes  freely,  sometimes  for  ridi- 
culously small  sums,  and  they  were  strong  enough 
in  Parliament,  and  through  the  local  administrative 
power  they  had,  to  see  that  their  demands  were  satis- 
fied. Nothing  that  the  Crown  let  go  ever  went  back 
to  the  Crown,  and  year  after  year  more  and  more  of 
what  had  once  been  the  monastic  land  became  the  ab- 
solute possession  of  the  large  land-owners. 

Observe  the  effect  of  this.  All  over  England  men 
who  already  held  in  virtually  absolute  property  from 
one-quarter  to  one-third  of  the  soil  and  the  ploughs 
and  the  barns  of  a  village,  became  possessed  in  a 
very  few  years  of  a  further  great  section  of  the  means 
of  production,  which  turned  the  scale  wholly  in  their 
favour.  They  added  to  that  third  a  new  and  extra 
fifth.  They  became  at  a  blow  the  owners  of  half\h& 
land  !  In  many  centres  of  capital  importance  they 
had  come  to  own  more  than  half  the  land.  They  were 
in  many  districts  not  only  the  unquestioned  superiors, 
but  the  economic  masters  of  the  rest  of  the  commun- 
ity. They  could  buy  to  the  greatest  advantage.  They 
were  strictly  competitive,  getting  every  shilling  of  due 
and  of  rent  where  the  old  clerical  landlords  had  been 
customary — leaving  much  to  the  tenant.  They  be- 
gan to  fill  the  universities,  the  judiciary.  The  Crown 
less  and  less  decided  between  great  and  small.  More 
and  more  the  great  could  decide  in  their  own  favour. 
They  soon  possessed  by  these  operations  the  bulk  of 



the  means  of  production,  and  they  immediately  began 
the  process  of  eating  up  the  small  independent  men 
and  gradually  forming  those  great  estates  which,  in 
the  course  of  a  few  generations,  became  identical  with 
the  village  itself.  All  over  England  you  may  notice 
that  the  great  squires'  houses  date  from  this  revolu- 
tion or  after  it.  The  manorial  house,  the  house  of 
the  local  great  man  as  it  was  in  the  Middle  Ages, 
survives  here  and  there  to  show  of  what  immense 
effect  this  revolution  was.  The  low-timbered  place 
with  its  steadings  and  outbuildings,  only  a  larger 
farmhouse  among  the  other  farmhouses,  is  turned 
after  the  Reformation  and  thenceforward  into  a  pal- 
ace. Save  where  great  castles  (which  were  only  held 
of  the  Crown  and  not  owned)  made  an  exception,  the 
pre-Reformation  gentry  lived  as  men  richer  than,  but 
not  the  mastersof,  other  farmers  around  them.  After 
the  Reformation  there  began  to  arise  all  over  England 
those  great "  country  houses"  which  rapidly  became 
the  typical  centres  of  English  agricultural  life. 

The  process  was  in  full  swing  before  Henry  died. 
Unfortunately  for  England,  he  left  as  his  heir  a  sickly 
child,  during  the  six  years  of  whose  reign,  from  1 547 
to  1 5  5  3,  the  loot  went  on  at  an  appalling  rate.  When 
he  died  and  Mary  came  to  the  throne  it  was  nearly 
completed.  A  mass  of  new  families  had  arisen, 
wealthy  out  of  all  proportion  to  anything  which  the 
older  England  had  known,  and  bound  by  a  common 
65  5 


interest  to  the  older  families  which  had  joined  in  the 
grab.  Every  single  man  who  sat  in  Parliament  for 
a  country  required  his  price  for  voting  the  dissolu- 
tion of  the  monasteries  ;  every  single  man  received 
it.  A  list  of  the  members  of  the  Dissolution  Parlia- 
ment is  enough  to  prove  this,  and,  apart  from  their 
power  in  Parliament,  this  class  had  a  hundred  other 
ways  of  insisting  on  their  will.  The  Howards(already 
of  some  lineage),  the  Cavendishes,  the  Cecils,  the 
Russels,  and  fifty  other  new  families  thus  rose  upon 
the  ruins  of  religion  ;  and  the  process  went  steadily 
on  until,  about  one  hundred  years  after  its  inception, 
the  whole  face  of  England  was  changed. 

In  the  place  of  a  powerful  Crown  disposing  of  re- 
venues far  greater  than  that  of  any  subject,  you  had^ 
a  Crown  at  its  wit's  end  for  money,  and  dominated 
by  subjects  some  of  whom  were  its  equals  in  wealth, 
and  who  could,  especially  through  the  action  of  Par- 
liament (which  they  now  controlled),  do  much  what 
they  willed  with  Government. 

In  other  words,  by  the  first  third  of  the  seventeenth 
century,  by  1630-40,  the  economic  revolution  was 
finally  accomplished,  and  the  new  economic  reality 
thrusting  itself  upon  the  old  traditions  of  England 
was  a  powerful  oligarchy  of  largeowners  overshadow- 
ing an  impoverished  and  dwindled  monarchy. 

Othercauses  had  contributed  to  this  deplorable  re- 
sult. The  change  in  the  value  of  money  had  hit  the 



Crown  very  hard  ;*  the  peculiar  history  of  the  Tudor 
family,  their  violent  passions,  their  lack  of  resolution 
and  of  any  continuous  policy,  to  some  extent  the 
character  of  Charles  I.  himself,  and  many  another 
subsidiary  cause  may  be  quoted.  But  the  great  main 
fact  upon  which  the  whole  thing  is  dependent  is  the 
fact  that  the  Monastic  Lands,  at  least  a  fifth  of  the 
wealth  of  the  country,  had  been  transferred  to  the 
great  land-owners,  and  that  this  transference  had 
tipped  the  scale  over  entirely  in  their  favour  as  against 
the  peasantry. 

The  diminished  and  impoverished  Crown  could  no 
longer  stand.  It  fought  against  the  new  wealth,  the 
struggle  of  the  Civil  Wars  ;  it  was  utterly  defeated  ; 
and  when  a  final  settlement  was  arrived  at  in  1660, 
you  have  all  the  realities  of  power  in  the  hands  of  a 
small  powerful  class  of  wealthy  men,  the  King  still 
surrounded  by  the  forms  and  traditions  of  his  old 
power,  but  in  practice  a  salaried  puppet.  And  in  that 
economic  world  which  underlies  all  political  appear- 
ances, the  great  dominating  note  was  that  a  few 
wealthy  families  had  got  hold  of  the  bulk  of  the  means 

*  The  purchasing  power  of  money  fell  during  this  century  to 
about  a  third  of  its  original  standard.  £3  (say)  would  purchase 
under  Charles  I.  the  necessities  which  £i  would  have  pur- 
chased under  Henry  VIII.  Nearly  all  the  receipts  of  the  Crown 
were  customary.  Most  of  its  expenses  were  competitive.  It 
continued  to  get  but  £i  where  it  was  gradually  compelled  to 
pay  out  £3. 


of  production  in  England,  while  the  same  families 
exercised  all  local  administrative  power  and  were 
moreover  the  Judges,  the  Higher  Education,  the 
Church,  and  the  generals.  They  quite  overshadowed 
what  was  left  of  central  government  in  this  country. 

Take,  as  a  starting-point  for  what  followed,  the 
date  1 700.  By  that  time  more  than  halfof  the  English 
were  dispossessed  of  capital  and  of  land.  Not  one 
man  in  tWo,even  if  you  reckon  the  very  small  owners, 
inhabited  a  house  of  which  he  was  the  secure  posses- 
sor, or  tilled  land  from  which  he  could  not  be  turned 

Such  a  proportion  may  seem  to  us  to-day  a  wonder- 
fully free  arrangement,  and  certainly  if  nearly  one- 
half  of  our  population  were  possessed  of  the  means 
of  production,  we  should  be  in  a  very  different  situa- 
tion from  that  in  which  we  find  ourselves.  But  the 
point  to  seize  is  that,  though  the  bad  business  was 
very  far  from  completion  in  or  about  the  year  1700, 
yet  by  that  date  England  had  already  become  CAPI- 
TALIST. She  had  already  permitted  a  vast  section  of 
her  population  to  become  proletarian,  and  it  is  this 
and  not  the  so-called  "  Industrial  Revolution,"  a  later 
thing,  which  accounts  for  the  terrible  social  condition 
in  which  we  find  ourselves  to-day. 

How  true  this  is  what  I  still  'have  to  say  in  this 
section  will  prove. 

In  an  England  thus  already  cursed  with  a  very 



large  proletariat  class,  and  in  an  [England  already 
directed  by  a  dominating  Capitalist  class,  possessing 
the  means  of  production,  there  came  a  great  indus- 
trial development. 

Had  that  industrial  development  come  upon  a 
people  economically  free,  it  would  have  taken  a  co- 
operative form.  Coming  as  it  did  upon  a  people 
which  had  already  largely  lost  its  economic  freedom, 
it  took  at  its  very  origin  a  Capitalist  form,  and  this 
formithasretained,expanded,and perfected  through- 
out two  hundred  years. 

It  was  in  England  that  the  Industrial  System  arose. 
It  was  in  England  that  all  its  traditions  and  habits 
were  formed  ;  and  because  the  England  in  which  it 
arose  was  already  a  Capitalist  England,  modern  In- 
dustrialism,wherever  you  see  it  at  work  to-day,  having 
spread  from  England,  has  proceeded  upon  the  Capi- 
talist model. 

It  was  in  1705  that  the  first  practical  steam-engine, 
Newcomen's,  was  set  to  work.  The  life  of  a  man 
elapsed  before  this  invention  was  made,  by  Watt's 
introduction  of  the  condenser,  into  the  great  instru- 
ment of  production  which  has  transformed  our  in- 
dustry— but  in  those  sixty  years  all  the  origins  of  the 
Industrial  System  are  to  be  discovered.  It  was  just  be- 
fore Watt's  patent  that  Hargreaves'  spinning-jenny 
appeared.  Thirty  years  earlier,  Abraham  Darby  of 
Colebrook  Dale,  at  the  end  of  a  long  series  of  experi- 


merits  which  had  covered  morethanacentury,smelted 
iron-ore  successfully  with  coke.  Not  twenty  years 
later,  King  introduced  the  flying  shuttle,  the  first 
great  improvement  in  the  hand-loom;  and  in  general 
the  period  covered  by  such  a  life  as  that  ofDr  Johnson, 
born  just  after  Newcomen's  engine  was  first  set  work- 
ing, and  dying  seventy-four  years  afterwards,  when 
the  Industrial  System  was  in  full  blast,  covers  that 
great  transformation  of  England.  A  man  who,  as  a 
child,  could  remember  the  last  years  of  Queen  Anne, 
and  who  lived  to  the  eve  of  the  French  Revolution, 
saw  passing  before  his  eyes  the  change  which  trans- 
formed English  society  and  has  led  it  to  the  expan- 
sion and  peril  in  which  we  see  it  to-day. 

What  was  the  characteristic  mark  of  that  half-cen- 
tury and  more  ?  Why  did  the  new  inventions  give  us 
the  form  of  society  now  known  and  hated  under  the 
name  of  Industrial?  Why  did  the  vast  increase  in  the 
powers  of  production,  in  population  and  in  accumu- 
lation of  wealth,  turn  the  mass  of  Englishmen  into  a 
poverty-stricken  proletariat,  cut  off  the  rich  from  the 
rest  of  the  nation,  and  develop  to  the  full  all  the  evils 
which  we  associate  with  the  Capitalist  State  ? 

To  that  question  an  answer  almost  as  universal  as 
it  is  unintelligent  has  been  given.  That  answer  is 
not  only  unintelligent  but  false,  and  it  will  be  my  busi- 
ness here  to  show  how  false  it  is.  The  answer  so  pro- 
vided in  innumerable  text-books,  and  taken  almost 



as  a  commonplace  in  our  universities,  is  that  the  new 
methods  of  production — the  new  machinery,  the  new 
implements — fatally  and  of  themselves  developed  a 
Capitalist  State  in  which  a  few  should  own  the  means 
of  production  and  the  mass  should  be  proletariat. 
The  new  instruments,  it  is  pointed  out,  were  on  so 
vastly  greater  a  scale  than  the  old,  and  were  so  much 
more  expensive,  that  the  small  man  could  not  afford 
them ;  while  the  rich  man,  who  could  afford  them,  ate 
up  by  his  competition,  and  reduced  from  the  position 
of  a  small  owner  to  that  of  a  wage-earner,  his  insuffi- 
ciently equipped  competitor  who  still  attempted  to 
struggle  on  with  the  older  and  cheaper  tools.  To  this 
(we  are  told)  the  advantages  of  concentration  were 
added  in  favour  of  the  large  owner  against  the  small. 
Not  only  were  the  new  instruments  expensive  almost 
in  proportion  to  their  efficiency,  but,  especially  after 
the  introduction  of  steam,  they  were  efficient  in  pro- 
portion to  their  concentration  in  few  places  and  under 
the  direction  of  a  few  men.  Under  the  effect  of  such 
false  arguments  as  these  we  have  been  taught  to  be- 
lieve that  the  horrors  of  the  Industrial  System  were  a 
blind  and  necessary  product  of  material  and  imperson- 
al forces,  and  that  wherever  the  steam  engine,  the  pow- 
er loom,  the  blast  furnace  and  the  rest  were  introduc- 
ed.therefatally  wouldsoon  appearalittle  groupofow- 
ners  exploiting  a  vast  majority  of  the  dispossessed. 
It  is  astonishing  that  a  statement  so  unhistorical 


should  have  gained  so  general  a  credence.  Indeed, 
were  the  main  truths  of  English  history  taught  in  our 
schools  and  universities  to-day,  were  educated  men 
familiar  with  the  determining  and  major  facts  of  the 
national  past,  such  follies  could  never  have  taken  root. 
The  vast  growth  of  the  proletariat,  the  concentration 
of  ownership  into  the  hands  of  a  few  owners,  and  the 
exploitation  by  those  owners  of  the  mass  of  the  com- 
munity,had  no  fatal  or  necessary  connection  with  the 
discovery  of  new  and  perpetually  improving  methods 
of  production.  The  evil  proceeded  indirect  historical 
sequence,  proceeded  patently  and  demonstrably ,  from 
the  fact  that  England,  the  seed-plot  of  the  Industrial 
System,  was  already  captured  by  a  wealthy  oligarchy 
before  the  series  of  great  discoveries  began. 

Considerin  what  way  the  Industrial  System  develop- 
ed upon  Capitalist  lines.  Why  were  a  few  rich  men  put 
with  such  ease  into  possession  of  the  new  methods? 
Why  was  it  normal  and  natural  in  their  eyes  and  in 
that  of  con  temporary  society  that  those  who  produced 
the  new  wealth  with  the  new  machinery  should  be 
proletarian  and  dispossessed  ?  Simply  because  the 
England  upon  which  the  new  discoveries  had  come 
was  already  an  England  owned  as  to  its  soil  and  ac- 
cumulations of  wealth  by  a  small  minority :  it  was 
already&n.  England  in  which  perhaps  half  of  the  whole 
population  was  proletarian,  and  a  medium  for  exploit- 
ation ready  to  hand. 



When  any  one  of  the  new  industries  was  launched 
it  had  to  be  capitalised;  that  is,  accumulated  wealth 
from  some  source  or  other  had  to  be  found  which  would 
support  labour  in  the  process  of  production  until  that 
process  should  be  complete.  Someone  must  find  the 
corn  and  the  meat  and  the  housing  and  the  clothing 
by  which  should  be  supported,  bet  ween  the  extraction 
of  the  raw  material  and  the  moment  when  the  con- 
sumption of  the  finished  article  could  begin,  thehuman 
agents  which  dealt  with  that  raw  material  and  turned 
it  into  the  finished  product.  Had  property  been  well 
distributed,  protected  by  co-operative  guilds  fenced 
round  and  supported  by  custom  and  by  the  autonomy 
of  great  artisan  corporations,  those  accumulations  of 
wealth,  necessary  for  the  launching  of  each  new  me- 
thod of  production  and  for  each  new  perfection  of  it, 
would  have  been  discovered  in  the  mass  of  small  own- 
ers. Their  corporations,  their  little  parcels  of  wealth 
combined  would  have  furnished  the  capitalisation  re- 
quired for  the  new  processes,and  men  already  owners 
would,  as  one  invention  succeeded  another,  have  in- 
creased the  total  wealth  of  the  community  without 
disturbing  the  balance  of  distribution.  There  is  no 
conceivable  lin  k  in  reason  or  in  experience  which  binds 
the  capitalisation  of  a  new  process  with  the  idea  of  a 
few  employing  owners  and  a  mass  of  employed  non- 
owners  working  at  a  wage.  Such  great  discoveries 
coming  in  a  society  like  that  of  the  thirteenth  century 


would  have  blest  and  enriched  mankind.  Comingupon 
the  diseased  moral  conditions  of  the  eighteenth  cen- 
tury in  this  country,  they  proved  a  curse. 

To  whom  could  the  new  industry  turn  for  capitali- 
sation ?  The  small  owner  had  already  largely  dis- 
appeared. The  corporate  life  and  mutual  obligations 
which  had  supported  him  and  confirmed  him  in  his 
property  had  been  broken  to  pieces  by  no  "economic 
development,"  but  by  the  deliberate  action  of  the  rich. 
He  was  ignorant  because  his  schools  had  been  taken 
from  him  and  the  universities  closed  to  him.  He  was 
the  more  ignorant  because  the  common  life  which 
once  nourished  his  social  sense  and  the  co-operative 
arrangements  which  had  once  been  his  defence  had 
disappeared.  When  you  sought  an  accumulation  oY 
corn,  of  clothing,  of  housing,  of  fuel  as  the  indispensable 
preliminary  to  the  launching  of  your  new  industry; 
when  you  looked  round  for  someone  who  could  find 
the  accumulated  wealth  necessary  for  these  consider- 
able experiments,  you  had  to  turn  to  the  class  which 
had  already  monopolised  the  bulk  of  the  means  of 
production  in  England.  The  rich  men  alone  could 
furnish  you  with  those  supplies. 

Nor  was  this  all.  The  supplies  once  found  and  the 
adventure  "  capitalised,"  that  form  of  human  energy 
which  lay  best  to  hand,  which  was  indefinitely  ex- 
ploitable, weak,  ignorant,  and  desperately  necessit- 
ous, ready  to  produce  for  you  upon  almost  any  terms, 


and  glad  enough  if  you  would  only  keep  it  alive, 
was  the  existing  proletariat  which  the  new  pluto- 
cracy had  created  when,  in  cornering  the  wealth  of 
the  country  after  the  Reformation,  they  had  thrust 
out  the  mass  of  Englishmen  from  the  possession  of 
implements,  of  houses,  and  of  land. 

The  rich  class,  adopting  some  new  process  of  pro- 
duction for  its  private  gain,  worked  it  upon  those 
lines  of  mere  competition  which  its  avarice  had  al- 
ready established.  Co-operative  tradition  was  dead. 
Where  would  it  find  its  cheapest  labour  ?  Obviously 
among  the  proletariat — not  among  the  remaining 
small  owners.  What  class  would  increase  under  the 
new  wealth  ?  Obviously  the  proletariat  again,  with- 
out responsibilities,  with  nothing  to  leave  to  its  pro- 
geny ;  and  as  they  swelled  the  capitalist's  gain,  they 
enabled  him  with  increasing  power  to  buy  out  the 
small  owner  and  send  him  to  swell  by  another  tribu- 
tary the  proletarian  mass. 

It  was  upon  this  account  that  the  Industrial  Re- 
volution, as  it  is  called,  took  in  its  very  origins  the 
form  which  has  made  it  an  almost  unmixed  curse  for 
the  unhappy  society  in  which  it  has  flourished.  The 
rich.already  possessedof  the  accumulations  by  which 
that  industrial  change  could  alone  be  nourished,  in- 
herited all  its  succeeding  accumulations  of  imple- 
ments and  all  its  increasing  accumulations  of  sub- 
sistence. The  factory  system,  starting  upon  a  basis 


of  capitalist  and  proletariat,  grew  in  the  mould  which 
had  determined  its  origins.  With  every  new  advance 
the  capitalist  looked  for  proletariat  grist  to  feed  the 
productive  mill.  Every  circumstance  of  that  society, 
the  form  in  which  the  laws  that  governed  ownership 
and  profit  were  cast,  the  obligations  of  partners,  the 
relations  bet  ween  "  master  "  and  "  man,"  directly  made 
for  the  indefinite  expansion  of  a  subject,  formless, 
wage-earning  class  controlled  by  a  small  body  of 
owners,  which  body  would  tend  to  become  smaller 
and  richer  still,  and  to  be  possessed  of  power  ever 
greater  and  greater  as  the  bad  business  unfolded. 

The  spread  of  economic  oligarchy  was  everywhere, 
and  not  in  industry  alone.  The  great  landlords  de- 
stroyed deliberately  and  of  set  purpose  and  to  their 
own  ad  vantage  the  common  rights  over  common  land. 
The  small  plutocracy  with  which  they  were  knit  up, 
and  with  whose  mercantile  elements  they  were  now 
fused,  directed  everything  to  its  own  ends.  That 
strong  central  government  which  should  protect  the 
community  againstthe  rapacity  of  a  few  had  gone  gen- 
erations before.  Capitalism  triumphant  wielded  all 
the  mechanism  of  legislation  and  of  information  too. 
It  still  holds  them  ;  and  there  is  not  an  example  of 
so-called  "Social  Reform  "to-day  which  isnotdemon- 
strably  (though  often  subconsciously)  directed  to  the 
further  entrenchment  and  confirmation  of  an  indus- 
trial society  in  which  it  is  taken  for  granted  that  a 



few  shall  own,  that  the  vast  majority  shall  live  at  a 
wage  under  them,  and  that  all  the  bulk  of  English- 
men may  hope  for  is  the  amelioration  of  their  lot  by 
regulations  and  by  control  from  above — but  not  by 
property ;  not  by  freedom. 

Weall  feel — and  thosefew  of  us  who  have  analysed 
the  matter  not  only  feel  but  know — that  the  Capitalist 
society  thus  gradually  developed  from  its  origins  in 
the  capture  of  the  land  four  hundred  years  ago  has 
reached  its  term.  It  is  almost  self-evident  that  it  can- 
not continue  in  the  form  which  now  three  generations 
have  known,  and  it  is  equally  self-evident  that  some 
solution  must  be  found  for  the  intolerable  and  in- 
creasing instability  with  which  it  has  poisoned  our 
lives.  But  before  considering  the  solutions  variously 
presented  by  various  schools  of  thought,  I  shall  in  my 
next  section  show  how  and  why  the  English  Capi- 
talist Industrial  System  is  thus  intolerably  unstable 
and  consequently  presents  an  acute  problem  which 
must  be  solved  under  pain  of  social  death. 

It  must  be  noted  that  modern  Industrialism  has  spread 
to  many  other  centres  from  England.  It  bears  everywhere 
the  features  stamped  upon  it  by  its  origin  in  this  country. 





which  I  have  introduced  by  way  of  illustrating  my 
subject  in  the  last  two  sections  I  now  return  to  the 
general  discussion  of  my  thesis  and  to  the  logical 
process  by  which  it  may  be  established. 

The  Capitalist  State  is  unstable,  and  indeed  more 
properly  a  transitory  phase  lying  between  two  per- 
manent and  stable  states  of  society. 

In  order  to  appreciate  why  this  is  so,  let  us  recall 
the  definition  of  the  Capitalist  State  : — 

"A  society  in  which  the  ownership  of  the  means 
of  production  is  confined  to  a  body  of  free  citizens, 
not  large  enough  to  make  up  properly  a  general  char- 
acter of  that  society,  while  the  rest  are  dispossessed 
of  the  means  of  production,  and  are  therefore  prole- 
tarian, we  call  Capitalist? 

Note  the  several  points  of  such  a  state  of  affairs. 
You  have  private  ownership ;  but  it  is  not  private 
ownership  distributed  in  many  hands  and  thus  fa- 
miliar as  an  institution  to  society  as  a  whole.  Again, 
you  have  the  great  majority  dispossessed  but  at  the 
same  time  citizens,  that  is,  men  politically  free  to  act, 
though  economically  impotent ;  again,  though  it  is 
but  an  inference  from  our  definition,  it  is  a  neces- 
81  6 


sary  inference  that  there  will  be  under  Capitalism  a 
conscious,  direct,  and  planned  exploitation  of  the  ma- 
jority, the  free  citizens  who  do  not  own  by  the  min- 
ority who  are  owners.  For  wealth  must  be  produced : 
the  whole  of  that  community  must  live :  and  the  pos- 
sessors can  make  such  terms  with  the  non-possessors 
as  shall  make  it  certain  that  a  portion  of  what  the  non- 
possessors  have  produced  shall  go  to  the  possessors. 

A  society  thus  constituted  cannot  endure.  It  can- 
not endure  because  it  is  subject  to  two  very  severe 
strains:  strains  which  increase  in  severity  in  propor- 
tion as  that  society  becomes  more  thoroughly  Capi- 
talist. The  first  of  these  strains  arises  from  the  diver- 
gence between  the  moral  theories  upon  which  the 
State  reposes  and  the  social  facts  which  those  moral 
theories  attempt  to  govern.  The  second  strain  arises 
from  the  insecurity  to  which  Capitalism  condemns 
the  great  mass  of  society,  and  the  general  character 
of  anxiety  and  peril  which  it  imposes  upon  all  citi- 
zens, but  in  particular  upon  the  majority,  which  con- 
sists, under  Capitalism,  of  dispossessed  free  men. 

Of  these  two  strains  it  is  impossible  to  say  which 
is  the  gravest.  Either  would  be  enough  to  destroy 
a  social  arrangement  in  which  it  was  long  present. 
The  two  combined  make  that  destruction  certain ; 
and  there  is  no  longer  any  doubt  that  Capitalist  so- 
ciety must  transform  itself  into  some  other  and  more 
stable  arrangement.  It  is  the  object  of  these  pages 



to  discover  what  that  stable  arrangement  will  prob- 
ably be. 

We  say  that  there  is  a  moral  strain  already  in- 
tolerably severe  and  growing  more  severe  with  every 
perfection  of  Capitalism. 

This  moral  strain  comes  from  a  contradiction  be- 
tween the  realities  of  Capitalist  and  the  moral  base 
of  our  laws  and  traditions. 

The  moral  base  upon  which  our  laws  are  still  ad- 
ministered and  our  conventions  raised  presupposes  a 
state  composed  of  free  citizens.  Our  laws  defend  pro- 
perty as  a  normal  institution  with  which  all  citizens 
are  acquainted,  and  which  all  citizens  respect.  It  pun- 
ishes theft  as  an  abnormal  incident  only  occurring 
when,  through  evil  motives,  one  free  citizen  acquires 
the  property  of  another  without  his  knowledge  and 
against  his  will.  It  punishes  fraud  as  another  abnor- 
mal incident  in  which,  from  evil  motives,  one  free  citi- 
zen induces  another  to  part  with  his  property  upon 
false  representations.  It  enforces  contract,  the  sole 
moral  base  of  which  is  the  freedom  of  the  two  con- 
tracting parties,  and  the  power  of  either,  if  it  so  please 
him,  not  to  enter  into  a  contract  which,  once  entered 
into,  must  be  enforced.  Itgives  to  an  ownerthe power 
to  leave  his  property  by  will,  under  the  conception 
that  such  ownership  and  such  passage  of  property  (to 


natural  heirs  as  a  rule,  but  exceptionally  to  any  other 
whom  the  testator  may  point  out)  is  the  normal  opera- 
tion of  a  society  generally  familiar  with  such  things, 
and  finding  them  part  of  the  domestic  life  lived  by 
the  mass  of  its  citizens.  It  casts  one  citizen  in  dam- 
ages if  by  any  wilful  action  he  has  caused  loss  to  an- 
other— for  it  presupposes  him  able  to  pay. 

The  sanction  upon  which  social  life  reposes  is,  in 
our  moral  theory,  the  legal  punishment  enforceable 
in  our  Courts,  and  the  basis  presupposed  for  the  se- 
curity and  material  happiness  of  our  citizens  is  the 
possession  of  goods  which  shall  guarantee  us  from 
anxiety  and  permit  us  an  independence  of  action  in 
the  midst  of  our  fellowmen. 

Now  contrast  all  this, the  moral  theory  upon  which 
society  is  still  perilously  conducted,  the  moral  theory 
to  which  Capitalism  itself  turns  for  succour  when  it 
is  attacked,  contrast,  I  say,  its  formulae  and  its  pre- 
suppositions with  the  social  reality  of  a  Capitalist 
State  such  as  is  England  to-day. 

Property  remains  as  an  instinct  perhaps  with  most 
of  the  citizens ;  as  an  experience  and  a  reality  it  is 
unknown  to  nineteen  out  of  twenty.  One  hundred 
forms  of  fraud, the  necessary  corollary  of  unrestrained 
competition  between  a  few  and  of  unrestrained  ava- 
rice as  the  motive  controlling  production,  are  not  or 
cannot  be  punished :  petty  forms  of  violence  in  theft 
and  of  cunning  in  fraud  the  laws  can  deal  with,  but 



they  cannot  deal  with  these  alone.  Our  legal  mach- 
inery has  become  little  more  than  an  engine  for  pro- 
tecting the  few  owners  against  the  necessities,  the  de- 
mands, or  the  hatred  of  the  mass  of  their  dispossess- 
ed fellow-citizens.  The  vast  bulk  of  so-called  "  free  " 
contracts  are  to-day  leonine  contracts:  arrangements 
which  one  man  was  free  to  take  or  to  leave,  but  which 
theother  man  was  not  free  to  take  or  to  leave,  because 
the  second  had  for  his  alternative  starvation. 

Most  important  of  all,  the  fundamental  social  fact 
of  our  movement,  far  more  important  than  any  se- 
curity afforded  by  law,  or  than  any  machinery  which 
the  State  can  put  into  action,  is  the  fact  that  liveli- 
hood is  at  the  will  of  the  possessors.  It  can  be  grant- 
ed by  the  possessors  to  the  non-possessors,  or  it  can 
be  withheld.  The  real  sanction  in  our  society  for  the 
arrangements  by  which  it  is  conducted  is  not  punish- 
ment enforceable  by  the  Courts,  but  the  withholding 
of  livelihood  from  the  dispossessed  by  the  possessors. 
Most  men  now  fear  the  loss  of  employment  more  than 
they  fear  legal  punishment,  and  the  discipline  under 
which  men  are  coerced  in  their  modern  forms  of  ac- 
tivity in  England  is  the  fear  of  dismissal.  The  true 
masterof  the  Englishman  to-day  is  not  the  Sovereign 
nor  the  officers  of  State,  nor,  save  indirectly,  the  laws; 
his  true  master  is  the  Capitalist. 

Of  these  main  truths  everyone  is  aware  ;  and  any- 
one who  sets  out  to  deny  them  does  so  to-day  at  the 


peril  of  his  reputation  either  for  honesty  or  for  in- 

If  it  be  asked  why  things  have  come  to  a  head  so 
late  (Capitalism  having  been  in  growth  for  so  long), 
the  answer  is  that  England,  even  now  the  most  com- 
pletely Capitalist  State  of  the  modern  world,  did  not 
itself  become  a  completely  Capitalist  State  until  the 
present  generation.  Within  the  memory  of  men  now 
living  half  England  was  agricultural,  with  relations 
domestic  rather  than  competitive  between  the  various 
human  factors  to  production. 

This  moral  strain,  therefore,  arising  from  the  diver- 
gence between  what  our  laws  and  moral  phrases  pre- 
tend, and  what  our  society  actually  is,  makes  of , that 
society  an  utterly  unstable  thing. 

This  spiritual  thesis  is  of  far  greater  gravity  than 
the  narrow  materialism  of  a  generation  now  passing 
might  imagine.  Spiritual  conflict  is  more  fruitful  of 
instability  in  the  State  than  conflict  of  any  other 
kind,  and  there  is  acute  spiritual  conflict,  conflict  in 
every  man's  conscience  and  ill-ease  throughout  the 
commonwealth  when  the  realities  of  society  are  di- 
vorced from  the  moral  base  of  its  institution. 

The  second  strain  which  we  have  noted  in  Capi- 
talism, its  second  element  of  instability,  consists  in 
the  fact  that  Capitalism  destroys  security. 


Experience  is  enough  to  save  us  any  delay  upon 
this  main  point  of  our  matter.  But  even  without  ex- 
perience we  could  reason  with  absolute  certitude  from 
the  very  nature  of  Capitalism  that  its  chief  effect 
would  be  the  destruction  of  security  in  human  life. 

Combine  these  two  elements :  the  ownership  of  the 
means  of  production  by  a  very  few ;  the  political  free- 
dom of  owners  and  non-owners  alike.  There  follows 
immediately  from  that  combination  a  competitive 
market  wherein  the  labour  of  the  non-owner  fetches 
just  what  it  is  worth,  not  as  full  productive  power, 
but  as  productive  power  which  will  leave  a  surplus  to 
the  Capitalist.  It  fetches  nothing  when  the  labourer 
cannot  work,  more  in  proportion  to  the  pace  at  which 
he  is  driven  ;  less  in  middle  age  than  in  youth  ;  less 
in  old  age  than  in  middle  age;  nothing  in  sickness  ; 
nothing  in  despair. 

A  man  in  a  position  to  accumulate  (the  normal 
result  of  human  labour),  a  man  founded  upon  pro- 
perty in  sufficient  amount  and  in  established  form  is 
no  more  productive  in  his  non-productive  moments 
than  is  a  proletarian  ;  but  his  life  is  balanced  and  re- 
gulated by  his  reception  of  rent  and  interest  as  well 
as  wages.  Surplus  values  come  to  him,  and  are  the 
fly-wheel  balancing  theextremes  of  his  life  and  carry- 
ing him  over  his  bad  times.  With  a  proletarian  it 
cannot  be  so.  The  aspect  from  Capital  looks  at  a  hu- 
man being  whose  labour  it  proposes  to  purchase  cuts 


right  across  that  normal  aspect  of  human  life  from 
which  we  all  regard  our  own  affections,  duties,  and 
character.  A  man  thinks  of  himself,  of  his  chances 
and  of  his  security  along  the  line  of  his  own  individ- 
ual existence  from  birth  to  death.  Capital  purchasing 
his  labour  (and  not  the  man  himself)  purchases  but  a 
cross-section  of  his  life,  his  moments  of  activity.  For 
the  rest,  he  must  fend  for  himself;  but  to  fend  for 
yourself  when  you  have  nothing  is  to  starve. 

As  a  matter  of  fact,  where  a  few  possess  the  means 
of  production  perfectly  free  political  conditions  are 
impossible.  A  perfect  Capitalist  State  cannot  exist, 
though  we  have  come  nearer  to  it  in  modern  England 
than  other  and  more  fortunate  nations  had  thought 
possible.  In  the  perfect  Capitalist  State  there  would 
be  no  food  available  for  the  non-owner  save  when  he 
was  actually  engaged  in  Production,  and  that  absur- 
dity would,  by  quickly  ending  all  human  lives  save 
those  of  the  owners,  put  a  term  to  the  arrangement. 
If  you  left  men  completely  free  under  a  Capitalist 
system,  there  would  be  so  heavy  a  mortality  from  star- 
vation as  would  dry  up  the  sources  of  labour  in  a  very 
short  time. 

Imaginethe  dispossessed  to  be  ideally  perfect  cow- 
ards, the  possessors  to  consider  nothing  whatsoever 
except  thebuyingof  their  labour  in  the  cheapest  mar- 
ket— and  the  system  would  break  down  from  the  death 
of  children  and  of  out-o'-works  and  of  women.  You 


would  not  have  a  State  in  mere  decline  such  as  ours 
is.  You  would  have  a  State  manifestly  and  patently 

As  a  fact,  of  course,  Capitalism  cannot  proceed  to 
its  own  logical  extreme.  So  long  as  the  political  free- 
dom of  all  citizens  is  granted  [the  freedom  of  the  few 
possessors  of  food  to  grant  or  withhold  it,of  the  many 
non-possessors  to  strike  any  bargain  at  all,  lest  they 
lack  it]:  to  exercise  such  freedom  fully  is  to  starve  the 
very  young,  the  old,  the  impotent,  and  the  despair- 
ing to  death.  Capitalism  must  keep  alive,  by  non- 
Capitalist  methods,  great  masses  of  the  population 
who  would  otherwise  starve  to  death;  and  that  is 
what  Capitalism  was  careful  to  do  to  an  increasing 
extent  as  it  got  a  stronger  and  a  stronger  grip  upon 
the  English  people.  Elizabeth's  Poor  Law  at  the  be- 
ginning of  the business,the  Poor  Law  of  1834,  coming 
at  a  moment  when  nearly  half  England  had  passed 
into  the  grip  of  Capitalism,  are  original  and  primitive 
instances  :  there  are  to-day  a  hundred  others. 

Though  this  cause  of  insecurity — the  fact  that  the 
possessors  have  no  direct  incentive  to  keep  men  alive 
— is  logically  the  most  obvious,and  always  the  most 
enduring  under  a  Capitalist  system,  there  is  another 
cause  more  poignant  in  its  effect  upon  human  life. 
That  other  cause  is  the  competitive  anarchy  in  pro- 


duction  which  restricted  ownership  coupled  withfree- 
dom  involves.  Consider  what  is  involved  by  the  very 
process  of  production  where  the  implements  and 
the  soil  are  in  the  hands  of  a  few  whose  motive  for 
causing  the  proletariat  to  produce  is  not  the  use  of 
the  wealth  created  but  the  enjoyment  by  those  pos- 
sessors of  surplus  value  or  "  profit." 

If  full  political  freedom  be  allowed  to  any  two  such 
possessors  of  implements  and  stores,  each  will  active- 
ly watch  his  market,  attempt  to  undersell  the  other, 
tend  to  overproduce  at  the  end  of  some  season  of 
extra  demand  for  his  article,  thus  glut  the  market 
only  to  suffer  a  period  of  depression  afterwards — and 
so  forth.  Again,  the  Capitalist,  free,  individual  direc- 
tor of  production,  will  miscalculate  ;  sometimes  he 
will  fail,  and  his  works  will  be  shut  down.  Again,  a 
mass  of  isolated,  imperfectly  instructed  competing 
units  cannot  but  direct  their  clashing  efforts  at  an  en- 
ormous waste,  and  that  waste  will  fluctuate.  Most 
commissions,  most  advertisements,  most  parades,  are 
examples  of  this  waste.  If  this  waste  of  effort  could 
be  made  a  constant,  the  parasitical  employment  it 
afforded  would  be  a  constant  too.  But  of  its  nature 
it  is  a  most  inconstant  thing,  and  the  employment  it 
affords  is  therefore  necessarily  precarious.  The  con- 
crete translation  of  this  is  the  insecurity  of  the  com- 
mercial traveller,  the  advertising  agent,  the  insurance 
agent,  and  every  form  of  touting  and  cozening  which 



competitive  Capitalism  carries  with  it. 

Now  here  again,  as  in  the  case  of  the  insecurity 
produced  by  age  and  sickness,  Capitalism  cannot  be 
pursued  to  its  logical  conclusion,  and  it  is  the  element 
of  freedom  which  suffers.  Competition  is,  as  a  fact, 
restricted  to  an  increasing  extent  by  an  understand- 
ingbetween  the  competitors,accompanied, especially 
in  this  country,  by  the  ruin  of  the  smaller  competitor 
through  secret  conspiracies  entered  into  by  the  larger 
men,  and  supported  by  the  secret  political  forces  of 
the  State.*  In  a  word,  Capitalism,  proving  almost 
as  unstable  to  the  owners  as  to  the  non-owners,  is 
tending  towards  stability  by  losing  its  essential  cha- 
racter of  political  freedom.  No  better  proof  of  the  in- 
stability of  Capitalism  as  a  system  could  be  desired. 

Take  any  one  of  the  numerous  Trusts  which  now 
control  English  industry,  and  have  made  of  modern 
England  the  type,  quoted  throughout  the  Continent, 
of  artificial  monopolies.  If  the  full  formula  of  Capi- 
talism were  accepted  by  our  Courts  and  our  execu- 
tive statesmen,  anyone  could  start  a  rival  business, 
undersell  those  Trusts  and  shatter  the  comparative 
security  they  afford  to  industry  within  their  field. 
The  reason  that  no  one  does  this  is  that  political  free- 

*  Before  any  trust  is  established  in  this  country,  the  first  step 
is  to  "interest"  one  of  our  politicians.  The  Telephones,  the 
South  Wales  Coal  Trust,  the  happily  defeated  Soap  Trust,  the 
Soda,  Fish,  and  Fruit  Trusts,  are  examples  in  point. 



dom  is  not,  as  a  fact,  protected  here  by  the  Courts  in 
commercial  affairs.  A  man  attempting  to  compete 
with  one  of  our  great  English  Trusts  would  find  him- 
self at  once  undersold.  He  might,  by  all  the  spirit 
of  European  law  for  centuries,indict  those  who  would 
ruin  him,  citing  them  for  a  conspiracy  in  restraint  of 
trade;  of  this  conspiracy  he  would  find  the  judge  and 
the  politicians  most  heartily  in  support. 

But  it  must  always  be  remembered  that  these  con- 
spiracies in  restraint  of  trade  which  are  the  mark  of 
modern  England  are  in  themselves  a  mark  of  the 
transition  from  the  true  Capitalist  phase  to  another. 

Under  the  essential  conditions  of  Capitalism— 
under  a  perfect  political  freedom — such  conspiracies  % 
would  be  punished  by  the  Courts  for  what  they  are  : 
to  wit,  a  contravention  of  the  fundamental  doctrine 
of  political  liberty.  For  this  doctrine,  while  it  gives 
any  man  the  right  to  make  any  contract  he  chooses 
with  any  labourer  and  offer  the  produceat  such  prices 
as  he  sees  fit,  also  involves  the  protection  of  that 
liberty  by  the  punishment  of  any  conspiracy  that  may 
have  monopoly  for  its  object.  If  such  perfect  free- 
dom is  no  longer  attempted,  if  monopolies  are  per- 
mitted and  fostered,  it  is  because  the  unnatural  strain 
to  which  freedom,  coupled  with  restricted  ownership, 
gives  rise,  the  insecurity  of  its  mere  competition,  the 
anarchy  of  its  productive  methods  have  at  last  prov- 
ed intolerable. 



I  have  already  delayed  more  than  was  necessary 
in  this  section  upon  the  causes  which  render  a  Capi- 
talist State  essentially  unstable. 

I  might  have  treated  the  matter  empirically,  taking 
for  granted  the  observation  which  all  my  readers 
must  have  made,  that  Capitalism  is  as  a  fact  doomed, 
and  that  the  Capitalist  State  has  already  passed  into 
its  first  phase  of  transition. 

We  are  clearly  no  longer  possessed  of  that  absol- 
utely political  freedom  which  true  Capitalism  essen- 
tially demands.  The  insecurity  involved,  coupled 
with  the  divorce  between  our  traditional  morals  and 
the  facts  of  society,  have  already  introduced  such 
novel  features  as  the  permission  of  conspiracy  among 
both  possessors  and  non-possessors,  the  compulsory 
provision  of  security  through  State  action,  and  all 
these  reforms,  implicit  or  explicit,  the  tendency  of 
which  I  am  about  to  examine. 




nature  unstable,  it  will  tend  to  reach  stability  by 
some  method  or  another. 

It  is  the  definition  of  unstable  equilibrium  that 
a  body  in  unstable  equilibrium  is  seeking  a  stable 
equilibrium.  For  instance,  a  pyramid  balanced  upon 
its  apex  is  in  unstable  equilibrium ;  which  simply 
means  that  a  slight  force  one  way  or  the  other  will 
make  it  fall  into  a  position  where  it  will  repose. 
Similarly,  certain  chemical  mixtures  are  said  to  be 
in  unstable  equilibrium  when  their  constituent  parts 
have  such  affinity  one  for  another  that  a  slight  shock 
may  make  them  combine  and  transform  the  chemi- 
cal arrangement  of  the  whole.  Of  this  sort  are  ex- 

If  the  Capitalist  State  is  in  unstable  equilibrium, 
this  only  means  that  it  is  seeking  a  stable  equilibrium, 
and  that  Capitalism  cannot  but  be  transformed  into 
some  other  arrangementwherein  Society  may  repose. 

There  are  but  three  social  arrangements  which  can 
replace  Capitalism :  Slavery,Socialism,  and  Property. 

I  may  imagine  a  mixture  of  any  two  of  these  three 
or  of  all  the  three,  but  each  is  a  dominant  type,  and 
from  the  very  nature  of  the  problem  no  fourth  ar- 
rangement can  be  devised. 

The  problem  turns,  remember,  upon  the  control 
of  the  means  of  production.  Capitalism  means  that 
97  7 


this  control  is  vested  in  the  hands  of  few,  while  poli- 
tical freedom  is  the  appanage  of  all.  If  this  anomaly 
cannot  endure,  from  its  insecurity  and  from  its  own 
contradiction  with  its  presumed  moral  basis,youmust 
either  have  a  transformation  of  the  oneor  of  the  other 
of  the  two  elements  which  combined  have  been  found 
unworkable.  These  two  factors  are  (i)  The  owner- 
ship of  the  means  of  Production  by  a  few ;  (2)  The 
Freedom  of  all.  To  solve  Capitalism  you  must  get 
rid  of  restricted  ownership,  or  of  freedom,  or  of  both. 
Now  there  is  only  one  alternative  to  freedom,  which 
is  the  negation  of  it.  Either  a  man  is  free  towork  and 
not  to  work  as  he  pleases,  or  he  may  be  liable  to  a 
legal  compulsion  to  work,  backed  by  the  forces  of 
the  State.  In  the  first  he  is  a  free  man;  in  the  second 
he  is  by  definition  a  slave.  We  have,  therefore,  so 
far  as  this  factor  of  freedom  is  concerned,  no  choice 
between  a  number  of  changes,  but  only  the  oppor- 
tunity of  one,  to  wit,  the  establishment  of  slavery  in 
place  of  freedom.  Such  a  solution,  the  direct,  im- 
mediate, and  conscious  re-establishment  of  slavery, 
would  provide  a  true  solution  of  the  problems  which 
Capitalism  offers.  It  would  guarantee,  under  work- 
able regulations,  sufficiency  and  security  for  the  dis- 
possessed. Such  a  solution,  as  I  shall  show,  is  the 
probable  goal  which  our  society  will  in  fact  approach. 
To  its  immediate  and  conscious  acceptance,  how- 
ever, there  is  an  obstacle. 



A  direct  and  conscious  establishment  of  slavery 
as  a  solution  to  the  problem  of  Capitalism,  the  sur- 
viving Christian  tradition  of  our  civilisation  compels 
men  to  reject.  No  reformer  will  advocate  it ;  no  pro- 
phet dares  take  it  as  yet  for  granted.  All  theories  of 
a  reformed  society  will  therefore  attempt,  at  first,  to 
leave  untouched  the  factor  of  Freedom  among  the 
elements  which  make  up  Capitalism,  and  will  con- 
cern themselves  with  some  change  in  the  factor  of 
Property.  * 

Now,  in  attempting  to  remedy  the  evils  of  Capi- 
talism by  remedying  that  one  of  its  two  factors  which 
consists  in  an  ill  distribution  of  property,  you  have 
two,  and  only  two,  courses  open  to  you. 

If  you  are  suffering  because  property  is  restricted 
to  a  few,  you  can  alter  that  factor  in  the  problem 
either  by  putting  property  into  the  hands  of  many,  or 
by  putting  it  into  the  hands  of  none.  There  is  no 
third  course. 

In  the  concrete,  to  put  property  in  the  hands  of 
"  none  "  means  to  vest  it  as  a  trust  in  the  hands  of 
political  officers.  If  you  say  that  the  evils  proceeding 
from  Capitalism  are  due  to  the  institution  of  property 
itself,  and  not  to  the  dispossession  of  the  many  by 
the  few,  then  you  must  forbid  the  private  possession 
of  the  means  of  production  by  any  particular  and 

*  By  which  word  "property  "  is  meant,  of  course,  property 
in  the  means  of  Production. 



private  part  of  the  community :  but  someone  must 
control  the  means  of  production,  or  we  should  have 
nothing  to  eat.  So  in  practice  this  doctrine  means 
the  management  of  the  means  of  production  by  those 
who  are  the  public  officers  of  the  community.  Whe- 
ther these  public  officers  are  themselves  controlled 
by  the  community  or  no  has  nothing  to  do  with  this 
solution  on  its  economic  side.  The  essential  point  to 
grasp  is  that  the  only  alternative  to  private  property 
is  public  property.  Somebody  must  see  to  the  plough- 
ing and  must  control  the  ploughs;  otherwise  no 
ploughing  will  be  done. 

It  is  equally  obvious  that  if  you  conclude  property 
in  itself  to  be  no  evil  but  only  the  small  number  of  its 
owners,  then  your  remedy  is  to  increase  the  number 
of  those  owners. 

So  much  being  grasped,  we  may  recapitulate  and 
say  that  a  society  like  ours,  disliking  the  name  of 
"slavery,"  and  avoiding  a  direct  and  conscious  re- 
establishment  of  the  slave  status,  will  necessarily 
contemplate  the  reform  of  its  ill-distributed  owner- 
ship on  one  of  two  models.  The  first  is  the  negation 
of  private  property  and  the  establishment  of  what 
is  called  Collectivism:  that  is,  the  management  of  the 
means  of  production  by  the  political  officers  of  the 
community.  The  second  is  the  wider  distribution  of 
property  until  that  institution  shall  become  the  mark 
of  the  whole  State,  and  until  free  citizens  are  nor- 



mally  found  to  be  possessors  of  capital  or  land,  or 

The  first  model  we  call  Socialism  or  the  Collec- 
tivist  State ;  the  second  we  call  the  Proprietary  or 
Distributive  State. 

With  so  much  elucidated,  I  will  proceed  to  show 
in  my  next  section  why  the  second  model,  involving 
the  redistribution  of  property,  is  rejected  as  imprac- 
ticable by  our  existing  Capitalist  Society,  and  why, 
therefore,  the  model  chosen  by  reformers  is  the  first 
model,  that  of  a  Collectivist  State. 

I  shall  then  proceed  to  show  that  at  its  first  in- 
ception all  Collectivist  Reform  is  necessarily  de- 
flected and  evolves,  in  the  place  of  what  it  had  in- 
tended, a  new  thing :  a  society  wherein  the  owners 
remain  few  and  wherein  the  proletarian  mass  accepts 
security  at  the  expense  of  servitude. 

Have  I  made  myself  clear  ? 

If  not,  I  will  repeat  for  the  third  time,  and  in  its 
briefest  terms,  the  formula  which  is  the  kernel  of  my 
whole  thesis. 

The  Capitalist  State  breeds  a  Collectivist  Theory 
which  in  action  produces  something  utterly  different 
from  Collectivism  :  to  wit,  the  SERVILE  STATE. 







ance,if  it  be  followed,  leads  a  Capitalist  State  to  trans- 
form itself  into  a  Servile  State. 

I  propose  to  show  that  this  comes  about  from  the 
fact  that  not  a  Distributive  but  a  Collectivist  solution 
is  the  easiest  for  a  Capitalist  State  to  aim  at,  and  that 
yet,  in  the  very  act  of  attempting  Collectivism,  what 
results  is  not  Collectivism  at  all,  but  the  servitude  of 
the  many,  and  the  confirmation  in  their  present  privi- 
lege of  the  few  ;  that  is,  the  Servile  State. 

Men  to  whom  the  institution  of  slavery  is  abhor- 
rent propose  for  the  remedy  of  Capitalism  one  of 
two  reforms. 

Either  they  would  put  property  into  the  hands  of 
most  citizens,  so  dividing  land  and  capital  that  a  de- 
termining number  of  families  in  the  State  were  pos- 
sessed of  the  means  of  production ;  or  they  would  put 
those  means  of  production  into  the  hands  of  the  po- 
litical officers  of  the  community,  to  be  held  in  trust 
for  the  advantage  of  all. 

The  first  solution  may  be  called  the  attempted 
establishment  of  the  DISTRIBUTIVE  STATE.  The 
second  may  be  called  the  attempted  establishment 

Those  who  favour  the  first  course  are  the  Conser- 


vatives  or  Traditionalists.  They  are  men  who  respect 
and  would,if  possible,  preserve  the  old  forms  of  Chris- 
tian European  life.  They  know  that  property  was 
thus  distributed  throughout  the  State  during  the 
happiest  periods  of  our  past  history;  they  also  know 
that  where  it  is  properly  distributed  to-day,  you  have 
greater  social  sanity  and  ease  than  elsewhere.  In 
general,  those  who  would  re-establish,  if  possible,  the 
Distributive  State  in  the  place  of,  and  as  a  remedy 
for,  the  vices  and  unrest  of  Capitalism,  are  men  con- 
cerned with  known  realities,  and  having  for  their  ideal 
a  condition  of  society  which  experience  has  tested 
and  proved  both  stable  and  good.  They  are  then, 
of  the  two  schools  of  reformers,  the  more  practical  in 
the  sense  that  they  deal  more  than  do  the  Collectiv- 
ists  (called  also  Socialists)  with  things  which  either 
are  or  have  been  in  actual  existence.  But  they  are 
less  practical  in  another  sense  (as  we  shall  see  in  a 
moment)  from  the  fact  that  the  stage  of  the  disease 
with  which  they  are  dealing  does  not  readily  lend 
itself  to  such  a  reaction  as  they  propose. 

The  Collectivist,on  the  other  hand, proposes  to  put 
land  and  capital  into  the  hands  of  the  political  officers 
of  the  community,and  this  on  the  understanding  that 
they  shall  hold  such  land  and  capital  in  trust  for  the 
advantage  of  the  community.  In  making  this  pro- 
posal he  is  evidently  dealing  with  a  state  of  things 
hitherto  imaginary,  and  his  ideal  is  not  one  that  has 

1 06 


been  tested  by  experience,  nor  one  of  which  our  race 
and  history  can  furnish  instances.  In  this  sense,  there- 
fore, he  is  the  less  practical  of  the  two  reformers.  His 
ideal  cannot  be  discovered  in  any  past,  known,  and 
recorded  phase  of  our  society.  We  cannot  examine 
Socialism  in  actual  working,  nor  can  we  say  (as  we 
can  say  of  well-divided  property):  "On  such  andsuch 
an  occasion,  in  such  and  such  a  period  of  European 
history,  Collectivism  was  established  and  produced 
both  stability  and  happiness  in  society." 

In  this  sense,  therefore,  the  Collectivist  is  far  less 
practical  than  the  reformer  who  desires  well-distri- 
buted property. 

On  the  other  hand,  there  is  a  sense  in  which  this 
Socialist  is  more  practical  than  that  other  type  of 
reformer,  from  the  fact  that  the  stage  of  the  disease 
into  which  we  have  fallen  apparently  admits  of  his 
remedy  with  less  shock  than  it  admits  of  a  reaction 
towards  well-divided  property. 

For  example :  the  operation  of  buying  out  some 
great  tract  of  private  ownership  to-day  (as  a  railway 
or  a  harbour  company)  with  public  funds,  continu- 
ing its  administration  by  publicly  paid  officials  and 
converting  its  revenue  to  public  use,  is  a  thing  with 
which  we  are  familiar  and  which  seemingly  might  be 
indefinitely  multiplied.  Individual  examples  of  such 
transformation  of  waterworks,  gas,  tramways,  from  a 
Capitalist  to  a  Collectivist  basis  are  common,  and  the 


change  does  not  disturb  any  fundamental  thing  in 
our  society.  When  a  private  Water  company  or  Tram- 
way line  is  bought  by  some  town  and  worked  there- 
after in  the  interests  of  the  public,  the  transaction  is 
effected  without  any  perceptible  friction,  disturbs  the 
life  of  no  private  citizen,  and  seems  in  every  way 
normal  to  the  society  in  which  it  takes  place. 

Upon  the  contrary,  the  attempt  to  create  a  large 
numberofshareholdersinsuchenterprisesand  artifici- 
ally to  substitute  many  partners,  distributed  through- 
out a  great  number  of  the  population,  in  the  place  of 
the  original  few  capitalist  owners,  would  prove  lengthy 
and  at  every  step  would  arouse  opposition,  would 
create  disturbance,  would  work  atanexpenseof  great 
friction,  and  would  be  imperilled  by  the  power  of  the 
new  and  many  owners  to  sell  again  to  a  few. 

In  a  word,  the  man  who  desires  to  re-establish  pro- 
perty as  an  institution  normal  to  most  citizens  in  the 
State  is  working  against  the  grain  of  our  existing 
Capitalist  society,  while  a  man  who  desires  to  establish 
Socialism — that  is  Collectivism — is  working  with  the 
grain  of  that  society.  The  first  is  like  a  physician 
who  should  say  to  a  man  whose  limbs  were  partially 
atrophied  from  disuse :  "  Do  this  ar\d  that,  take  such 
and  such  exercise,  and  you  will  recover  the  use  of 
your  limbs."  The  second  is  like  a  physician  who 
should  say :  "  You  cannot  go  on  as  you  are.  Your 
limbs  are  atrophied  from  lack  of  use.  Your  attempt 



to  conduct  yourself  as  though  they  were  not  is  use- 
less and  painful ;  you  had  better  make  up  your  mind 
to  be  wheeled  about  in  a  fashion  consonant  to  your 
disease."  The  Physician  is  the  Reformer,  his  Patient 
the  Proletariat. 

It  is  not  the  purpose  of  this  book  to  show  how  and 
under  what  difficulties  a  condition  of  well-divided 
property  might  be  restored  and  might  take  the  place 
(even  in  England)  of  that  Capitalism  which  is  now 
no  longer  either  stable  or  tolerable  ;  but  for  the  pur- 
poses of  contrast  and  to  emphasise  my  argument  I 
will  proceed,  before  showing  how  the  Collectivist  un- 
consciously makes  for  the  Servile  State,  to  show  what 
difficulties  surround  the  Distributive  solution  and 
why,  therefore,  the  Collectivist  solution  appeals  so 
much  more  readily  to  men  living  under  Capitalism. 

If  I  desire  to  substitute  a  number  of  small  owners 
for  a  few  large  ones  in  some  particular  enterprise, 
how  shall  I  set  to  work  ? 

I  might  boldly  confiscate  and  redistribute  at  a 
blow.  But  by  what  process  should  I  choose  the  new 
owners  ?  Even  supposing  that  there  was  some  ma- 
chinery whereby  the  justice  of  the  new  distribution 
could  be  assured,  how  could  I  avoid  the  enormous 
and  innumerable  separate  acts  of  injustice  that  would 
attach togeneral  redistributions?  To  say  "none  shall 
own"  and  to  confiscate  is  one  thing;  to  say  "all  should 


own"  and  apportion  ownership  is  another.  Action  of 
this  kind  would  so  disturb  the  whole  network  of  eco- 
nomic relations  as  to  bring  ruin  at  once  to  the  whole 
body  politic,  and  particularly  to  the  smaller  interests 
indirectly  affected.  In  a  society  such  as  ours  a  catas- 
trophe falling  upon  the  State  from  outside  might  in- 
directly do  good  by  making  such  a  redistribution 
possible.  But  no  one  working  from  within  the  State 
could  provoke  that  catastrophe  without  ruining  his 
own  cause. 

If,  then,  I  proceed  more  slowly  and  more  rationally 
and  canalise  the  economic  life  of  society  so  that  small 
property  shall  gradually  be  built  up  within  it,  see 
against  what  forces  of  inertia  and  custom  I  have  to 
work  to-day  in  a  Capitalist  society  ! 

If  I  desire  to  benefit  small  savings  at  the  expense 
of  large,  I  must  reverse  the  whole  economy  under 
which  interest  is  paid  upon  deposits  to-day.  It  is  far 
easier  to  save  ;£ioo  out  of  a  revenue  of  £1000  than 
to  save  £10  out  of  a  revenue  of  £100.  It  is  infinitely 
easier  to  save  ;£io  out  of  a  revenue  of  ^100  than  £5 
out  of  a  revenue  of  £50.  To  build  up  small  property 
through  thrift  when  once  the  Mass  have  fallen  into  the 
proletarian  trough  is  impossible  unless  you  deliber- 
ately subsidise  small  savings,  offering  them  a  reward 
which,incompetition,they  could  never  obtain;  and  to 
do  this  the  whole  vast  arrangement  of  credit  must  be 
worked  backwards.  Or,  let  the  policy  be  pursued  of 



penalising  undertakings  with  few  owners,  of  heavily 
taxing  large  blocks  of  shares  and  of  subsidising  with 
the  produce  small  holders  in  proportion  to  the  small- 
ness  of  their  holding.  Here  again  you  are  met  with 
the  difficulty  of  a  vast  majority  who  cannot  even  bid 
for  the  smallest  share. 

One  might  multiply  instances  of  the  sort  indefi- 
nitely, but  the  strongest  force  against  the  distribution 
of  ownership  in  a  society  already  permeated  with 
Capitalist  modes  of  thought  is  still  the  moral  one  : 
Will  men  want  to  own?  Will  officials,  administrators, 
and  law-makers  be  able  to  shake  off  the  power  which 
under  Capitalism  seems  normal  to  the  rich  ?  If  I  ap- 
proach, for  instance,  the  works  of  one  of  our  great 
Trusts,  purchase  it  with  public  money,  bestow,  even 
as  a  gift,the  shares  thereof  to  its  workmen,  can  I  count 
upon  any  tradition  of  property  in  their  midst  which 
will  prevent  their  squandering  the  new  wealth?  Can  I 
discover  any  relics  of  the  co-operative  instinct  among 
such  men  ?  Could  I  get  managers  and  organisers  to 
take  a  group  of  poor  men  seriously  or  to  serve  them 
as  they  would  serve  rich  men  ?  Is  not  the  whole  psy- 
chology of  a  Capitalist  society  divided  between  the 
proletarian  mass  which  thinks  in  terms  not  of  pro- 
perty but  of"  employment,"  and  the  few  owners  who 
are  alone  familiar  with  the  machinery  of  administra- 

I  have  touched  but  very  briefly  and  superficially 


upon  this  matter,  because  it  needs  no  elaboration. 
Though  it  is  evident  that  with  a  sufficient  will  and  a 
sufficient  social  vitality  property  could  be  restored, 
it  is  evident  that  all  efforts  to  restore  it  have  in  a 
Capitalist  society  such  as  our  own  a  note  of  oddity, 
of  doubtful  experiment,  of  being  unco-ordinated  with 
other  social  things  around  them,  which  marks  the 
heavy  handicap  under  which  any  such  attempt  must 
proceed.  It  is  like  recommending  elasticity  to  the 

On  the  other  hand,  the  Collectivist  experiment  is 
thoroughly  suited  (in  appearance  at  least)  to  the  Cap- 
italist society  which  it  proposes  to  replace.  It  works 
with  the  existing  machinery  of  Capitalism,  talks  and% 
thinks  in  the  existing  terms  of  Capitalism,  appeals 
to  just  those  appetites  which  Capitalism  has  aroused, 
and  ridicules  as  fantastic  and  unheard-of  just  those 
things  in  society  the  memory  of  which  Capitalism 
has  killed  among  men  wherever  the  blight  of  it  has 

So  true  is  all  this  that  the  stupider  kind  of  Col- 
lectivist will  often  talk  of  a  "  Capitalist  phase "  of 
society  as  the  necessary  precedent  to  a  "  Collectivist 
phase."  A  trust  or  monopoly  is  welcomed  because  it 
"  furnishes  a  mode  of  transition  from  private  to  public 
ownership."  Collectivism  promises  employment  to 
the  great  mass  who  think  of  production  only  in  terms 
of  employment.  It  promises  to  its  workmen  the  secur- 



ity  which  a  great  and  well-organised  industrial  Capi- 
talist unit  (like  one  of  our  railways)  can  give  through 
a  system  of  pensions,  regular  promotion,  etc.,but  that 
security  vastly  increased  through  the  fact  that  it  is 
the  State  and  not  a  mere  unit  of  the  State  which 
guarantees  it.  Collectivism  would  administer,  would 
pay  wages,  would  promote,  would  pension  off,  would 
fine — and  all  the  rest  of  it — exactly  as  the  Cap- 
italist State  does  to-day.  The  proletarian,  when  the 
Collectivist  (or  Socialist)  State  is  put  before  him,  per- 
ceives nothing  in  the  picture  save  certain  ameliora- 
tions of  his  present  position.  Who  can  imagine  that 
if,  say, two  of  our  great  industries,  Coal  and  Railways, 
were  handed  over  to  the  State  to-morrow, the  armies 
of  men  organised  therein  would  find  any  change  in 
the  character  of  their  lives,  save  in  some  increase  of 
securityand  possiblyin  a  very  slight  increase  of  earn- 

The  whole  scheme  of  Collectivism  presents,  so  far 
as  the  proletarian  mass  of  a  Capitalist  State  is  con- 
cerned, nothingunknown  at  all,  but  a  promise  of  some 
increment  in  wages  and  a  certainty  of  far  greater 
ease  of  mind. 

Tothat  small  minorityof  a  Capitalistsociety  which 
owns  the  means  of  production,  Collectivism  will  of 
courseappear  as  an  enemy,but,even  so,it  is  an  enemy 
which  they  understandand  an  enemy  withwhom  they 
can  treat  in  terms  common  both  to  that  enemy  and 
113  8 


to  themselves.  If,  for  instance,  the  State  proposes 
to  take  over  such  and  such  a  trust  now  paying  4  per 
cent,  and  believes  that  under  State  management  it 
will  make  the  trust  pay  5  per  cent.,  then  the  trans- 
ference takes  the  form  of  a  business  proposition :  the 
State  is  no  harder  to  the  Capitalists  taken  over  than 
wasMrYerkestothe  Underground.  Again, the  State, 
having  greater  credit  and  longevity,  can  (it  would 
seem)  *  "  buy  out "  any  existing  Capitalist  body  upon 
favourable  terms.  Again,  the  discipline  by  which  the 
State  would  enforce  its  rules  upon  the  proletariat  it 
employed  would  be  the  same  rules  as  those  by  which 
the  Capitalist  imposes  discipline  in  his  own  interests 

There  is  in  the  whole  scheme  which  proposes  to 
transform  the  Capitalist  into  the  Collectivist  State  no 
element  of  reaction,  the  use  of  no  term  with  which  a 
Capitalist  society  is  not  familiar,  the  appeal  to  no  in- 
stinct, whether  of  cowardice,  greed,  apathy,  or  me- 
chanical regulation,  with  which  a  Capitalist  com- 
munity is  not  amply  familiar. 

In  general,  if  modern  Capitalist  England  were  made 
by  magic  a  State  of  small  owners,we  should  all  suffer 
an  enormous  revolution.  We  should  marvel  at  the 
insolence  of  the  poor,  at  the  laziness  of  the  contented, 
at  the  strange  diversities  of  task,  at  the  rebellious, 

*  That  this  is  an  illusion  I  shall  attempt  to  show  on  a  later 



vigorous  personalities  discernible  upon  every  side. 
But  if  this  modern  Capitalist  England  could,  by  a 
process  sufficiently  slow  to  allow  for  the  readjust- 
ment of  individual  interests,  be  transformed  into  a 
Collectivist  State,  the  apparent  change  at  the  end  of 
that  transition  would  not  be  conspicuous  to  the  most 
of  us,  and  the  transition  itself  should  have  met  with 
no  shocks  that  theory  can  discover.  The  insecure  and 
hopeless  margin  below  the  regularly  paid  ranks  of 
labour  would  have  disappeared  into  isolated  work- 
places of  a  penal  kind :  we  should  hardly  miss  them. 
Many  incomes  now  involving  considerable  duties  to 
the  State  would  have  been  replaced  by  incomes  as 
large  or  larger,  involving  much  the  same  duties  and 
bearing  only  the  newer  name  of  salaries.  The  small 
shop-keeping  class  would  find  itself  in  part  absorbed 
under  public  schemes  at  a  salary,  in  part  engaged  in 
the  old  work  of  distribution  at  secure  incomes ;  and 
such  small  owners  as  are  left,  of  boats,  of  farms,  even 
of  machinery,  would  perhaps  know  the  new  state  of 
things  intowhich  they  had  survived  through  nothing 
more  novel  than  some  increase  in  the  irritating  sys- 
tem of  inspection  and  of  onerous  petty  taxation:  they 
are  already  fairly  used  to  both. 

This  picture  of  the  natural  transition  from  Capi- 
talism to  Collectivism  seems  so  obvious  that  many 
Collectivists  in  a  generation  immediately  past  believ- 
ed that  nothing  stood  between  them  and  the  realisa- 


tion  of  their  ideal  save  the  unintelligence  of  mankind. 
They  had  only  to  argue  and  expound  patiently  and 
systematically  for  the  great  transformation  to  become 
possible.  They  had  only  to  continue  arguing  and  ex- 
pounding for  it  at  last  to  be  realised. 

I  say,"  of  the  last  generation."  To-day  that  simple 
and  superficial  judgmentisgetting  woefully  disturbed. 
The  most  sincere  and  single-minded  of  Collectivists 
cannot  but  note  that  the  practical  effect  of  their  pro- 
paganda is  not  an  approach  towards  the  Collectivist 
State  at  all,  but  towards  something  very  different.  It 
is  becoming  more  and  more  evident  that  with  every 
new  reform — and  those  reforms  commonly  promoted 
by  particular  Socialists,  and  in  a  puzzled  way  blessed 
by  Socialists  in  general — another  state  emerges  more 
and  more  clearly.  It  is  becoming  increasingly  certain 
that  the  attempted  transformation  of  Capitalism  in- 
to Collectivism  is  resulting  not  in  Collectivism  at  all, 
but  in  some  third  thing  which  the  Collectivist  never 
dreamt  of,  or  the  Capitalist  either ;  and  that  third 
thing  is  the  SERVILE  State  :  a  State,  that  is,  in  which 
the  mass  of  men  shall  be  constrained  by  law  to  labour 
to  the  profit  of  a  minority,  but,  as  the  price  of  such 
constraint,  shall  enjoy  a  security  which  the  old  Capi- 
talism did  not  give  them. 

Why  is  the  apparently  simple  and  direct  action  of 
Collectivist  reform  diverted  into  so  unexpected  a 
channel?  And  in  what  new  laws  and  institutions  does 



modern  England  in  particular  and  industrial  society 
in  general  show  that  this  new  form  of  the  State  is 
upon  us? 

To  these  two  questions  I  will  attempt  an  answer  in 
the  two  concluding  divisions  of  this  book. 





how  the  three  interests  which  between  them  account 
for  nearly  the  whole  of  the  forces  making  for  social 
change  in  modern  England  are  all  necessarily  drift- 
ing towards  the  Servile  State. 

Of  these  three  interests  the  first  two  represent  the 
Reformers — the  third  the  people  to  be  Reformed. 

These  three  interests  are,  first,  the  Socialist,  who 
is  the  theoretical  reformer  working  along  the  line  of 
least  resistance;  secondly,  the  "  Practical  Man?  who 
as  a  "practical "  reformer  depends  on  his  shortness  of 
sight, and  is  therefore  to-day  a  powerful  factor;  while 
the  third  is  that  great  proletarian  mass  for  whom  the 
change  is  being  effected,  and  on  whom  it  is  being  im- 
posed. What  they  are  most  likely  to  accept,  the  way 
in  which  they  will  react  upon  new  institutions  is  the 
most  important  factor  of  all,  for  they  are  the  material 
with  and  upon  which  the  work  is  being  done. 

(i)  Of  the  Socialist  Reformer  : 

I  say  that  men  attempting  to  achieve  Collectivism 
or  Socialism  as  the  remedy  for  the  evils  of  the  Capi- 
talist State  find  themselves  drifting  not  towards  a 
Collectivist  State  at  all,  but  towards  a  Servile  State. 

The  Socialist  movement,  the  first  of  the  three  fac- 
tors in  this  drift,  is  itself  made  up  of  two  kinds 


of  men :  there  is  (a)  the  man  who  regards  the  public 
ownership  of  the  means  of  production  (and  the  con- 
sequent compulsion  of  all  citizens  to  work  under  the 
direction  of  the  State)  as  the  only  feasible  solution  of 
our  modern  social  ills.  There  is  also  (b)  the  man  who 
loves  the  Collectivist  ideal  in  itself,  who  does  not 
pursue  it  so  much  because  it  is  a  solution  of  modern 
Capitalism,  as  because  it  is  an  ordered  and  regular 
form  of  society  which  appeals  to  him  in  itself.  He 
loves  to  consider  the  ideal  of  a  State  in  which  land 
and  capital  shall  be  held  by  public  officials  who  shall 
order  other  men  about  and  so  preserve  them  from 
the  consequences  of  their  vice,  ignorance,  and  folly. 

These  types  are  perfectlydistinct,  in  many  respects 
antagonistic,  and  between  them  they  cover  the  whole 
Socialist  movement. 

Now  imagine  either  of  these  men  at  issue  with  the 
existing  state  of  Capitalist  society  and  attempting  to 
transform  it.  Along  what  line  of  least  resistance  will 
either  be  led  ? 

(a)  The  first  type  will  begin  bydemanding  the  con- 
fiscation of  the  means  of  production  from  the  hands 
of  their  present  owners,and  the  vesting  of  them  in  the 
State.  But  wait  a  moment.  That  demand  is  an  ex- 
ceedingly hard  thing  to  accomplish.  The  present 
owners  have  between  them  and  confiscation  a  stony 
moral  barrier.  It  is  what  most  men  would  call  the 
moral  basis  of  property  (the  instinct  that  property  is 



a  right),  and  what  all  men  would  admit  to  be  at  least 
a  deeply  rooted  tradition.  Again,  they  have  behind 
them  the  innumerable  complexities  of  modern  own- 

To  take  a  very  simple  case.  Decree  that  all  com- 
mon lands  enclosed  since  so  late  a  date  as  1760  shall 
revert  to  the  public.  There  you  have  a  very  moder- 
ate case  and  a  very  defensible  one.  But  conceive  for 
a  moment  how  many  small  freeholds,  what  a  nexus 
of  obligation  and  benefit  spread  over  millions,  what 
thousands  of  exchanges,  what  purchases  made  upon 
the  difficult  savings  of  small  men  such  a  measure 
would  wreck  !  It  is  conceivable,  for,  in  the  moral 
sphere,  society  can  do  anything  to  society ;  but  it 
would  bring  crashing  down  with  it  twenty  times  the 
wealth  involved  and  all  the  secure  credit  of  our  com- 
munity. In  a  word,  the  thing  is,  in  the  conversa- 
tional use  of  that  term,  impossible.  So  your  best  type 
of  Socialist  reformer  is  led  to  an  expedient  which  I 
will  here  only  mention — as  it  must  be  separately  con- 
sidered at  length  later  on  account  of  its  fundamental 
importance — the  expedient  of  "  buying  out"  the  pre- 
sent owner. 

It  is  enough  to  say  in  this  place  that  the  attempt 
to  "  buy  out "  without  confiscation  is  based  upon  an 
economic  error.  This  I  shall  prove  in  its  proper 
place.  For  the  moment  I  assume  it  and  pass  on  to 
the  rest  of  my  reformer's  action. 


He  does  not  confiscate,  then ;  at  the  most  he  "  buys 
out"  (or  attempts  to  "buy  out")  certain  sections  of 
the  means  of  production. 

But  this  action  by  no  means  covers  the  whole  of 
his  motive.  By  definition  the  man  is  out  to  cure  what 
he  sees  to  be  the  great  immediate  evils  of  Capitalist 
society.  He  is  out  to  cure  the  destitution  which  it 
causes  in  great  multitudes  and  the  harrowing  in- 
security which  it  imposes  upon  all.  He  is  out  to  sub- 
stitute for  Capitalist  society  a  society  in  which  men 
shall  all  be  fed,  clothed,  housed,  and  in  which  men 
shall  not  live  in  a  perpetual  jeopardy  of  their  hous- 
ing, clothing,  and  food. 

Well,  there  is  a  way  of  achieving  that  without 

This  reformer  rightly  thinks  that  the  ownership 
of  the  means  of  production  by  a  few  has  caused  the 
evils  which  arouse  his  indignation  and  pity.  But  they 
have  only  been  so  caused  on  account  of  a  combina- 
tion of  such  limited  ownership  with  universal  free- 
dom. The  combination  of  the  two  is  the  very  defini- 
tion of  the  Capitalist  State.  It  is  difficult  indeed  to 
dispossess  the  possessors.  It  is  by  no  means  so  diffi- 
cult (as  we  shall  see  again  when  we  are  dealing  with 
the  mass  whom  these  changes  will  principally  affect) 
to  modify  the  factor  of  freedom. 

You  can  say  to  the  Capitalist :  "  I  desire  to  dis- 



possess  you,  and  meanwhile  I  am  determined  that 
your  employees  shall  live  tolerable  lives."  The  Capi- 
talist replies  :  "  I  refuse  to  be  dispossessed,  and  it  is, 
short  of  catastrophe,  impossible  to  dispossess  me. 
But  if  you  will  define  the  relation  between  my  em- 
ployees and  myself,  I  will  undertake  particular  re- 
sponsibilities due  to  my  position.  Subject  the  prole- 
tarian, as  a  proletarian,  and  because  he  is  a  proletarian, 
to  special  laws.  Clothe  me,  the  Capitalist,  as  a  Capi- 
talist, and  because  I  am  a  Capitalist,  with  special 
converse  duties  under  those  laws.  I  will  faithfully 
see  that  they  areobeyed;  I  will  compel  my  employees 
to  obey  them,  and  I  will  undertake  the  new  role  im- 
posed upon  me  by  the  State.  Nay,  T  will  go  further, 
and  I  will  say  that  such  a  novel  arrangement  will 
make  my  own  profits  perhaps  larger  and  certainly 
more  secure." 

This  idealist  social  reformer,  therefore,  finds  the 
current  of  his  demand  canalised.  As  to  one  part  of 
it,  confiscation,  it  is  checked  and  barred ;  as  to  the 
other,  securing  human  conditions  for  the  proletariat, 
the  gates  are  open.  Half  the  river  is  dammed  by  a 
strong  weir,  but  there  is  a  sluice,  and  that  sluice  can 
be  lifted.  Once  lifted,  the  whole  force  of  the  current 
will  run  through  the  opportunity  so  afforded  it;  there 
will  it  scour  and  deepen  its  channel ;  there  will  the 
main  stream  learn  to  run. 

To  drop  the  metaphor,  all  those  things  in  the  true 


Socialist's  demand  which  are  compatible  with  the 
Servile  State  can  certainly  be  achieved.  The  first 
steps  towards  them  are  already  achieved.  They  are 
of  such  a  nature  that  upon  them  can  be  based  a 
further  advance  in  the  same  direction,  and  the  whole 
Capitalist  State  can  be  rapidly  and  easily  transformed 
into  the  Servile  State,  satisfying  in  its  transforma- 
tion the  more  immediate  claims  and  the  more  urgent 
demands  of  the  social  reformer  whose  ultimate  ob- 
jective indeed  may  be  the  public  ownership  of  capi- 
tal and  land,  but  whose  driving  power  is  a  burning 
pity  for  the  poverty  and  peril  of  the  masses. 

When  the  transformation  is  complete  there  will 
be  no  ground  left,  nor  any  demand  or  necessity,  for 
public  ownership.  The  reformer  only  asked  for  it 
in  order  to  secure  security  and  sufficiency :  he  has 
obtained  his  demand. 

Here  are  security  and  sufficiency  achieved  by  an- 
other and  much  easier  method,  consonant  with  and 
proceeding  from  the  Capitalist  phase  immediately 
preceding  it :  there  is  no  need  to  go  further. 

In  this  way  the  Socialist  whose  motive  is  human 
good  and  not  mere  organisation  is  being  shepherded 
in  spite  of  himself  away  from  his  Collectivist  ideal 
and  towards  a  society  in  which  the  possessors  shall 
remain  possessed,  the  dispossessed  shall  remain  dis- 
possessed, in  which  the  mass  of  men  shall  still  work 
for  the  advantage  of  a  few,  and  in  which  those  few 



shall  still  enjoythe  surplus  values  produced  by  labour, 
but  in  which  the  special  evils  of  insecurity  and  in- 
sufficiency, in  the  main  the  product  of  freedom,  have 
been  eliminated  by  the  destruction  of  freedom. 

At  the  end  of  the  process  you  will  have  two  kinds 
of  men,  the  owners  economically  free,  and  control- 
ling to  their  peace  and  to  the  guarantee  of  their  liveli- 
hood the  economically  unfree  non-owners.  But  that 
is  the  Servile  State. 

(b)  The  second  type  of  socialist  reformer  may  be 
dealt  with  more  briefly.  In  him  the  exploitation  of 
man  by  man  excites  no  indignation.  Indeed,  he  is 
not  of  a  type  to  which  indignation  or  any  other  lively 
passion  is  familiar.  Tables,  statistics,  an  exact  frame- 
work for  life — these  afford  him  the  food  that  satisfies 
his  moral  apetite ;  the  occupation  most  congenial  to 
him  is  the  "running"  of  men :  as  a  machine  is  run. 

To  such  a  man  the  Collectivist  ideal  particularly 

It  is  orderly  in  the  extreme.  All  that  human  and 
organic  complexity  which  is  the  colour  of  any  vital 
society  offends  himbyitsinfinite  differentiation.  Heis 
disturbed  by  multitudinous  things;  and  the  prospect 
of  a  vast  bureaucracy  wherein  the  whole  of  life  shall 
be  scheduled  and  appointed  tocertainsimpleschemes 
deriving  from  the  co-ordinate  work  of  public  clerks 
and  marshalled  by  powerful  heads  of  departments 


gives  his  small  stomach  a  final  satisfaction. 

Now  this  man,  like  the  other,  would  prefer  to  begin 
with  public  property  in  capital  and  land,  and  upon 
that  basis  to  erect  the  formal  scheme  which  so  suits 
his  peculiar  temperament.  (It  need  hardly  be  said 
that  in  his  vision  of  a  future  society  he  conceives  of 
himself  as  the  head  of  at  least  a  department  and  pos- 
sibly of  the  whole  State — but  that  is  by  the  way.)  But 
while  he  would  prefer  to  begin  with  a  Collectivist 
scheme  ready-made,  he  finds  in  practice  that  he  can- 
notdoso.  Hewould  havetoconfiscatejustas themore 
hearty  Socialist  would;  and  if  that  act  is  very  difficult 
to  the  man  burning  at  thesight  of  human 
much  more  difficult  is  it  to  a  man  impelled  by  no  such 
motive  force  and  directed  by  nothing  more  intense 
than  a  mechanical  appetite  for  regulation  ? 

He  cannot  confiscate  or  begin  to  confiscate.  At  the 
best  he  will  "  buy  out "  the  Capitalist. 

Now,  in  his  case,  as  in  the  case  of  the  more  human 
Socialist,  "  buying  out "  is,  as  I  shall  show  in  its  pro- 
per place,  a  system  impossible  of  general  application. 

But  all  thoseother  things  for  which  such  a  man  cares 
much  more  than  he  does  for  the  socialisation  of  the 
means  of  production — tabulation,  detailed  adminis- 
tration of  men,  the  co-ordination  of  many  efforts  un- 
der one  schedule, the  elimination  of  all  private  power 
to  react  against  his  Department,  all  these  are  im- 
mediately obtainable  without  disturbing  the  existing 



arrangement  of  society.  With  him,  precisely  as  with 
the  other  socialist,  what  he  desires  can  be  reached  with- 
out any  dispossession  of  the  few  existing  possessors. 
He  has  but  to  secure  the  registration  of  the  proleta- 
riat; next  to  ensure  that  neither  they  in  the  exercise 
of  their  freedom,  nor  the  employer  in  the  exercise 
of  his,can  produce  insufficiency  orinsecurity — and  he 
is  content.  Let  laws  exist  which  make  the  proper 
housing,  feeding,  clothing,  and  recreation  of  the  pro- 
letarian massbeincumbent  upon  the  possessing  class, 
and  the  observance  of  such  rules  be  imposed,  by  in- 
spection and  punishment,  upon  those  whom  he  pre- 
tends to  benefit,  and  all  that  he  really  cares  for  will 
be  achieved. 

To  such  a  man  the  Servile  State  is  hardly  a  thing 
towards  which  he  drifts,  it  is  rather  a  tolerable  alter- 
native to  his  ideal  Collectivist  State,  which  alternative 
he  is  quite  prepared  to  accept  and  regards  favourab- 
ly. Already  the  greater  part  of  such  reformers  who, 
a  generation  ago,  would  have  called  themselves  "So- 
cialists "  are  now  less  concerned  with  any  scheme  for 
socialising  Capital  and  Land  than  with  innumerable 
schemes  actually  existing,  some  of  them  possessing 
already  the  force  of  laws,  for  regulating, "  running," 
and  drilling  the  protelariat  without  trenching  by  an 
inch  uponthe  privilegeinimplements,stores,andland 
enjoyed  by  the  small  Capitalist  class. 

The  so-called  "  Socialist "  of  this  type  has  not  fall- 
129  9 


en  into  the  Servile  State  by  a  miscalculation.  He  has 
fathered  it;  he  welcomes  its  birth,  he  foresees  his  pow- 
er over  its  future. 

So  much  for  the  Socialist  movement,  which  a  gen- 
eration ago  proposed  to  transform  our  Capitalist  so- 
ciety into  one  where  the  community  should  be  the 
universal  owner  and  all  men  equally  economically 
free  or  unfree  under  its  tutelage.  To-day  their  ideal 
has  failed,  and  of  the  two  sources  whence  their  energy 
proceeded,  the  one  is  reluctantly,  the  other  gladly, 
acquiescent  in  the  advent  of  a  society  which  is  not  So- 
cialist at  all  but  Servile. 

(2)  Of  the  Practical  Reformer : 

There  is  another  type  of  Reformer,  one  who  prides 
himself  on  not  being  a  socialist,  and  one  of  the  great- 
est weight  to-day.  He  also  is  making  for  the  Ser- 
vile State.  This  second  factor  in  the  change  is  the 
"  Practical  Man  " ;  and  this  fool,  on  account  of  his 
great  numbers  and  determining  influence  in  the  de- 
tails of  legislation,  must  be  carefully  examined. 

It  is  your  "  Practical  Man  "  who  says  :  "  Whatever 
you  theorists  and  doctrinaires  may  hold  with  regard 
to  this  proposal  (which  I  support),though  it  may  offend 
some  abstractdogmaofyours,yet*«/nz£/zV£  you  must 
admit  that  it  does  good.  If  you  had  practical  experi- 
ence of  the  misery  of  the  Jones'  family,  or  had  done 



practical  work  yourself  in  Pudsey,  you  would  have 
seen  that  a  practical  man,"  etc. 

It  is  not  difficult  to  discern  that  the  Practical  Man 
in  social  reform  is  exactly  the  same  animal  as  the 
Practical  Man  in  every  other  department  of  human 
energy,  and  may  bediscovered  suffering  from  thesame 
twin  disabilities  whichstampthePractical  Man  where- 
ever  found :  these  twin  disabilities  are  an  inability  to 
define  his  own  first  principles  and  an  inabilityto  follow 
the  consequences  proceeding  from  his  own  action. 
Both  these  disabilities  proceed  from  one  simple  and 
deplorable  form  of  impotence,  the  inability  to  think. 

Let  us  help  the  Practical  Man  in  his  weakness  and 
do  a  little  thinking  for  him. 

As  a  social  reformer  he  has  of  course  (though  he 
does  not  know  it)  first  principles  and  dogmas  like  all 
the  rest  of  us,  and  his  first  principles  and  dogmas  are 
exactly  the  same  as  those  which  his  intellectual  su- 
periors hold  in  the  matter  of  social  reform.  The  two 
things  intolerable  to  him  as  a  decent  citizen  (though 
a  very  stupid  human  being)  are  insufficiency  and  in- 
security. When  he  was  "  working  "  in  the  slums  of 
Pudsey  or  raiding  the  proletarian  Jones's  from  the 
secure  base  of  Toy  nbee  Hall,  what  shocked  the  worthy 
man  most  was  "unemployment"  and  "  destitution  "  : 
that  is,  insecurityand  insufficiency  in  flesh  and  blood. 

Now,  if  the  Socialist  who  has  thought  out  his  case, 
whether  as  a  mere  organiser  or  as  a  man  hungering 


and  thirsting  after  justice,  is  led  away  from  Socialism 
and  towards  the  Servile  State  by  the  force  of  modern 
things  in  England,  how  much  more  easily  do  you  not 
think  the  "Practical  Man"  will  be  conducted  towards 
that  same  Servile  State,like  any  donkey  tohis  grazing 
ground  ?  To  those  dull  and  short-sighted  eyes  the 
immediate  solution  which  even  the  beginnings  of  the 
Servile  State  propose  are  what  a  declivity  is  to  a  piece 
of  brainless  matter.  The  piece  of  brainless  matter  rolls 
down  the  declivity,  and  the  Practical  Man  lollops  from 
Capitalism  to  the  Servile  State  with  the  same  inevi- 
table ease.  Jones  has  not  got  enough.  If  you  give 
him  something  in  charity,  that  something  will  be  soon 
consumed, and  then  Jones  will  again  not  have  enough. 
Jones  has  been  seven  weeks  out  of  work.  If  you  get 
him  work "underourunorganised  and  wastefulsystem, 
etc.,"  he  may  lose  it  just  as  he  lost  his  first  jobs.  The  the  Practical  Man  knowsby  Practi- 
cal experience,  are  often  unemployable.  Then  there 
are  "the  ravages  of  drink" :  more  fatal  still  the  dread- 
ful habitmankindhasofformingfamiliesandbreeding 
children.  The  worthy  fellow  notes  that  "as  a  practical 
matter  of  fact  such  men  do  not  work  unless  you  make 

He  does  not,  because  he  cannot,  co-ordinate  all 
these  things.  He  knows  nothing  of  a  society  in  which 
free  men  were  once  owners,  nor  of  the  co-operative 
and  instinctive  institutions  for  the  protection  of  own- 



ership  which  such  a  society  spontaneously  breeds.  He 
"takes  the  world  as  he  finds  it" — and  the  consequence 
is  that  whereas  men  of  greater  capacity  may  admit 
with  different  degrees  of  reluctance  the  general  prin- 
ciples of  the  Servile  State,^,the  Practical  Man,  posi- 
tively gloats  on  every  new  detail  in  the  building  up 
of  that  form  of  society.  And  the  destruction  of  free- 
dom by  inches  (though  he  does  not  see  it  to  be  the 
destruction  of  freedom)  is  the  one  panacea  so  obvious 
that  he  marvels  at  the  doctrinaires  who  resist  or  sus- 
pect the  process. 

It  has  been  necessary  to  waste  so  much  time  on 
this  deplorable  individual  because  the  circumstances 
of  our  generation  give  him  a  peculiar  power.  Under 
the  conditions  of  modern  exchangeaman  of  that  sort 
enjoys  great  advantages.  He  is  to  be  found  as  he 
never  was  in  any  other  society  before  our  own,  possess- 
ed of  wealth,  and  political  as  never  was  any  such  citizen 
until  our  time.  Of  history  with  all  its  lessons  ;  of  the 
great  schemes  of  philosophy  and  religion,  of  human 
nature  itself  he  is  blank. 

The  Practical  Man  left  to  himself  would  not  pro- 
duce the  Servile  State.  He  would  not  produce  any- 
thingbutawelter  of  anarchic  restrictions  which  would 
lead  at  last  to  some  kind  of  revolt. 

Unfortunately,  he  is  not  left  to  himself.  He  is  but 
the  ally  or  flanking  party  of  great  forces  which  he 
does  nothing  to  oppose,  and  of  particular  men,  able 


and  prepared  for  the  work  of  general  change,  who  use 
him  with  gratitude  and  contempt.  Were  he  not  so 
numerous  in  modern  England,  and,  under  the  extra- 
ordinary conditions  of  a  Capitalist  State,  so  economi- 
cally powerful,  I  would  have  neglected  him  in  this 
analysis.  As  it  is,  we  may  console  ourselves  by  remem- 
bering that  the  advent  of  the  Servile  State,  with  its 
powerful  organisation  and  necessity  for  lucid  thought 
in  those  who  govern,  will  certainly  eliminate  him. 

Ourreformers,then,both  thosewhothinkand  those 
who  do  not,  both  those  who  are  conscious  of  the  pror 
cess  and  those  who  are  unconscious  of  it,  are  making 
directly  for  the  Servile  State. 

(3)  What  of  the  third  factor  ?  What  of  the  people 
about  to  be  reformed  ?  What  of  the  millions  upon 
whose  carcasses  the  reformers  are  at  work,  and  who 
are  the  subject  of  the  great  experiment  ?  Do  they 
tend,  as  material,  to  accept  or  to  reject  that  transfor- 
mation from  free  proletarianism  to  servitude  which 
is  the  argument  of  this  book  ? 

The  question  isanimportant  onetodecide,forupon 
whether  the  material  is  suitable  or  unsuitable  for  the 
work  to  which  it  is  subjected,  depends  the  success  of 
every  experiment  making  for  the  Servile  State. 



The  mass  of  men  in  the  Capitalist  State  is  prole- 
tarian. As  a  matter  of  definition,  the  actual  number 
oftheproletariatandtheproportion  that  number  bears 
to  the  total  number  of  families  in  the  State  may  vary, 
but  must  be  sufficient  to  determine  the  general  char- 
acter of  the  State  before  we  can  call  that  State  Capi- 

But,  as  we  have  seen,  the  Capitalist  State  is  not  a 
stable,  and  therefore  not  a  permanent,  condition  of 
society.  It  has  proved  ephemeral ;  and  upon  that  very 
account  the  proletariat  in  any  Capitalist  State  retains 
to  a  greater  or  less  degree  some  memories  of  a  state 
of  society  in  which  its  ancestors  were  possessors  of 
property  and  economically  free. 

The  strength  of  this  memoryor  tradition  is  thefirst 
elementwe  have  to  bear  in  mindinour  problem, when 
we  examine  how  far  a  particular  proletariat,  such  as 
the  English  proletariat  to-day,  is  ready  to  accept  the 
Servile  State,  which  would  condemn  it  to  a  perpetual 
loss  of  property  and  of  all  the  free  habit  which  pro- 
perty engenders. 

Next  be  it  noted  that  under  conditions  of  freedom 
the  Capitalist  class  may  be  entered  by  the  more  cun- 
ning or  the  more  fortunate  of  the  proletariat  class. 
Recruitment  of  the  kind  was  originally  sufficiently 
common  in  the  first  development  of  Capitalism  to  be 
a  standing  feature  in  society  and  to  impress  the  im- 
agination of  the  general.  Such  recruitment  is  still 


possible.  The  proportion  which  it  bears  to  the  whole 
proletariat,  thechance  which  each  member  of  the  pro- 
letariat may  think  he  has  of  escaping  from  his  pro- 
letarian condition  in  a  particular  phase  of  Capitalism 
such  as  is  ours  to-day,  is  the  second  factor  in  the  pro- 

The  third  factor,  and  by  far  the  greatest  of  all,  is 
the  appetite  of  the  dispossessed  for  that  security  and 
sufficiency  of  whichCapitalism,  withits  essential  con- 
dition of  freedom,  has  deprived  them. 

Now  let  us  consider  the  interplay  of  these  three 
factors  in  the  English  proletariat  as  we  actually  know 
it  at  this  moment.  That  proletariat  is  certainly  the, 
great  mass  of  the  State :  it  covers  about  nineteen- 
twentieths  of  the  population — if  we  exclude  Ireland, 
where,  as  I  shall  point  out  in  my  concluding  pages, 
the  reaction  against  Capitalism,andthereforeagainst 
its  development  towards  a  Servile  State,  is  already 

As  to  the  first  factor,  it  has  changed  very  rapidly 
within  the  memory  of  men  now  living.  The  tradi- 
tional rights  of  property  are  still  strong  in  the  minds 
of  the  English  poor.  All  the  moral  connotations  of 
that  right  are  familiar  to  them.  They  are  familiar 
with  the  conception  of  theft  as  a  wrong;  they  are  ten- 
acious of  any  scraps  of  property  which  they  may  ac- 
quire. They  could  all  explain  what  is  meant  by  owner- 



ship,  by  legacy,  by  exchange,  and  by  gift,  and  even 
by  contract.  There  is  not  one  but  could  put  himself 
in  the  position,  mentally,  of  an  owner. 

But  the  actual  experience  of  ownership,  and  the 
effect  which  that  experience  has  upon  character  and 
upon  one's  view  of  the  State  is  a  very  different  matter. 
Within  the  memory  of  people  still  living  a  sufficient 
number  of  Englishmen  were  owning  (as  small  free- 
holders, small  masters,  etc.)  to  give  to  the  institution 
of  property  coupled  with  freedom  a  very  vivid  effect 
upon  the  popular  mind.  More  than  this,  there  was  a 
living  tradition  proceeding  from  the  lips  of  men  who 
couldstill  bear  living  testimony  to  therelics  of  abetter 
state  of  things.  I  have  myself  spoken,  when  I  was  a 
boy, to  old  labourers  intheneighbourhood  of  Oxford 
who  had  risked  their  skins  in  armed  protest  against 
the  enclosure  of  certain  commons,  and  who  had  of 
course  suffered  imprisonment  by  a  wealthy  judge  as 
the  reward  of  their  courage;  and  I  have  my  self  spoken 
in  Lancashire  to  old  men  who  could  retrace  for  me, 
either  from  their  personal  experience  the  last  phases 
of  small  ownership  in  the  textile  trade,  or,  from  what 
their  fathers  had  told  them,  the  conditions  of  a  time 
when  small  and  well-divided  ownership  in  cottage 
looms  was  actually  common. 

All  that  has  passed.  The  last  chapter  of  its  passage 
has  been  singularly  rapid.  Roughly  speaking,  it  is 
the  generation  brought  up  under  the  Education  Acts 


of  the  last  forty  years  which  has  grown  up  definitely 
and  hopelessly  proletarian.  The  present  instinct.use, 
and  meaning  of  property  is  lost  to  it :  and  this  has 
had  two  very  powerful  effects,each  strongly  inclining 
our  modern  wage-earners  to  ignore  the  old  barriers 
which  lay  between  a  condition  of  servitude  and  a  con- 
dition of  freedom.  The  first  effect  is  this  :  that  pro- 
perty is  no  longerwhat  they  seek, nor  what  they  think 
obtainable  for  themselves.  The  second  effect  is  that 
they  regard  the  possessors  of  property  as  a  class  apart, 
whom  they  always  must  ultimately  obey,  often  envy, 
and  sometimes  hate  ;  whose  moral  right  to  so  singu- 
lar a  position  most  of  them  would  hesitate  to  concede, 
and  many  of  them  would  nowstrongly  deny,  but  whose 
position  they,  at  any  rate,  accept  as  a  known  and  per- 
manent social  fact,  the  origins  of  which  they  have  for- 
gotten, and  the  foundations  of  which  they  believe  to 
be  immemorial. 

To  sum  up :  The  attitude  of  the  proletariat  in  Eng- 
land to-day  (the  attitude  of  the  overwhelming  ma- 
jority, that  is,  of  English  families)  towards  property 
and  towards  that  freedom  which  is  alone  obtainable 
through  property  is  no  longer  an  attitude  of  experi- 
ence or  of  expectation.  They  think  of  themselves  as 
wage-earners.  To  increase  the  weekly  stipend  of  the 
wage-earner  is  an  object  which  they  vividly  appreci- 
ate and  pursue.  To  make  him  cease  to  be  a  wage- 
earner  is  an  object  that  would  seem  to  them  entirely 



outside  the  realities  of  life. 

What  of  the  second  factor,  the  gambling  chance 
which  the  Capitalist  system,  with  its  necessary  con- 
dition of  freedom,  of  the  legal  power  to  bargain  fully, 
and  so  forth,  permits  to  the  proletarian  of  escaping 
from  his  proletariat  surroundings  ? 

Of  this  gambling  chance  and  the  effect  it  has  upon 
men's  minds  we  may  say  that,  while  it  has  not  dis- 
appeared, it  has  very  greatly  lost  in  force  during 
the  last  forty  years.  One  often  meets  men  who  tell 
one,  whether  they  are  speaking  in  defence  of  or  a- 
gainst  the  Capitalist  system,  that  it  still  blinds  the 
proletarian  to  any  common  consciousness  of  class, 
because  the  proletarian  still  has  the  example  before 
him  of  members  of  his  class,  whom  he  has  known, 
rising  (usuallyby  various  forms  of  villainy)  to  the  posi- 
tion of  capitalist.  But  when  one  goes  down  among 
the  working  men  themselves,  one  discovers  that  the 
hope  of  such  a  change  in  the  mind  of  any  individual 
worker  is  now  exceedingly  remote.  Millions  of  men 
in  great  groups  of  industry,  notably  in  the  transport 
industry  and  in  the  mines,  have  quite  given  up  such 
an  expectation.  Tiny  as  the  chance  ever  was,  exag- 
gerated as  the  hopes  in  a  lottery  always  are,  that  tiny 
chance  has  fallen  in  the  general  opinion  of  the  workers 
to  be  negligible,  and  that  hope  which  a  lottery  breeds 
is  extinguished.  The  proletarian  now  regards  him- 
self as  definitely  proletarian,  nor  destined  within  hu- 



man  likelihood  to  be  anything  but  proletarian. 

These  two  factors,  then,  the  memory  of  an  older 
condition  of  economic  freedom,  and  the  effect  of  a 
hope  individuals  might  entertain  of  escaping  from 
the  wage-earning  class,  the  two  factors  which  might 
act  most  strongly  against  the  acceptation  of  the  Ser- 
vile State  by  that  class,  have  so  fallen  in  value  that 
they  offer  but  little  opposition  to  the  third  factor  in 
the  situation  which  is  making  so  strongly  for  the 
Servile  State,  and  which  consists  in  the  necessity  all 
men  acutely  feel  for  sufficiency  and  for  security.  It 
is  this  third  factor  alone  which  need  be  seriously  con- 
sidered to-day,  when  we  ask  ourselves  how  far  the 
material  upon  which  social  reform  is  working,  that 
is,  the  masses  of  the  people,  may  be  ready  to  accept 
the  change. 

The  thing  may  be  put  in  many  ways.  I  will  put 
it  in  what  I  believe  to  be  the  most  conclusive  of  all. 

If  you  were  to  approach  those  millions  of  families 
now  living  at  a  wage,  with  the  proposal  for  a  contract 
of  service  for  life,  guaranteeing  them  employment  at 
what  each  regarded  as  his  usual  full  wage,  how  many 
would  refuse  ? 

Such  a  contract  would,  of  course,  involve  a  loss  of 
freedom:  a  life-contract  of  the  kind  is,  to  be  accurate, 
no  contract  at  all.  It  is  the  negation  of  contract  and 
the  acceptation  of  status.  It  would  lay  the  man  that 



undertook  it  under  an  obligation  of  forced  labour, 
coterminous  and  coincident  with  his  power  to  labour. 
It  would  be  a  permanent  renunciation  of  his  right  (if 
such  a  right  exists)  to  the  surplus  values  created  by 
his  labour.  If  we  ask  ourselves  how  many  men,  or 
rather  how  manyfamilies, would  prefer  freedom(with 
its  accompanimentsof  certain  insecurity  and  possible 
insufficiency)  to  such  a  life-contract,  no  one  can  deny 
that  the  answer  is  :  "  Very  few  would  refuse  it."  That 
is  the  key  to  the  whole  matter. 

What  proportion  would  refuse  it  no  one  can  de- 
termine ;  but  I  say  that  even  as  a  voluntary  offer,  and 
not  as  a  compulsory  obligation,  a  contract  of  this  sort 
which  would  for  the  future  destroy  contract  and  re- 
erect  status  of  a  servile  sort  would  be  thought  a  boon 
by  the  mass  of  the  proletariat  to-day. 

Now  take  the  truth  from  another  aspect — by  con- 
sidering it  thus  from  one  point  of  view  and  from 
another  we  can  appreciate  it  best — Of  what  are  the 
mass  of  men  now  most  afraid  in  a  Capitalist  State  ? 
Not  of  the  punishments  that  can  be  inflicted  by  a 
Court  of  Law,  but  of  "  the  sack." 

You  may  ask  a  man  why  he  does  not  resist  such 
and  such  a  legal  infamy;  why  he  permits  himself  to 
be  the  victim  of  fines  and  deductions  from  which  the 
Truck  Acts  specifically  protect  him  ;  why  he  cannot 
assert  his  opinion  in  this  or  that  matter  ;  why  he  has 
accepted,  without  a  blow,  such  and  such  an  insult. 


Some  generations  ago  a  man  challenged  to  tell  you 
why  he  forswore  his  manhood  in  any  particular  re- 
gard would  have  answered  you  that  it  was  because 
he  feared  punishment  at  the  hands  of  the  law ;  to-day 
he  will  tell  you  that  it  is  because  he  fears  unemploy- 

Private  law  has  for  the  second  time  in  our  long 
European  story  overcome  public  law,and  thesanctions 
which  the  Capitalist  can  call  to  the  aid  of  his  private 
rule,by  the  action  of  his  private  will, are  stronger  than 
those  which  the  public  Courts  can  impose. 

In  the  seventeenth  century  a  man  feared  to  go  to 
Mass  lest  the  judges  should  punish  him.  To-day  a, 
man  fears  to  speak  in  favour  of  some  social  theory 
which  he  holds  to  be  just  and  true  lest  his  master 
should  punish  him.  To  deny  the  rule  of  public  powers 
once  involved  public  punishments  which  most  men 
dreaded, though  some  stood  out.  To  deny  the  rule  of 
private  powers  involves  to-day  a  private  punishment 
against  the  threat  of  which  very  few  indeed  dare  to 
stand  out. 

Look  at  the  matter  from  yet  another  aspect.  A  law 
is  passed  (let  us  suppose)  which  increases  the  total 
revenue  of  a  wage-earner,  or  guarantees  him  against 
the  insecurity  of  his  position  in  some  small  degree. 
The  administration  of  that  law  requires,  upon  the  one 
hand, a  close  inquisition  into  the  man's  circumstances 
by  public  officials,  and,  upon  the  other  hand,  the  ad- 



ministration  of  its  benefits  by  that  particular  Capi- 
talist or  group  of  Capitalists  whom  the  wage-earner 
serves  to  enrich.  Do  the  Servile  conditions  attaching 
to  this  material  benefit  prevent  a  proletarian  in  Eng- 
land to-day  from  preferring  the  benefit  to  freedom  ? 
It  is  notorious  that  they  do  not. 

No  matter  from  what  angle  you  approach  the  busi- 
ness, the  truth  is  always  the  same.  That  great  mass 
of  wage-earners  upon  which  our  society  now  reposes 
understands  as  a  present  good  all  that  will  increase 
even  to  some  small  amount  their  present  revenue 
and  all  that  may  guarantee  them  against  those  perils 
of  insecurity  to  which  they  are  perpetually  subject. 
They  understand  and  welcome  a  good  of  this  kind, 
and  they  are  perfectly  willing  to  pay  for  that  good 
the  corresponding  price  of  control  and  enregimen- 
tation,  exercised  in  gradually  increasing  degree  by 
those  who  are  their  paymasters. 

It  would  be  easy  by  substituting  superficial  for 
fundamental  things,  or  even  by  proposing  certain 
terms  and  phrases  to  be  used  in  the  place  of  terms 
and  phrases  now  current — it  would  be  easy,  I  say,  by 
such  methods  to  ridicule  or  to  oppose theprimetruths 
which  I  am  here  submitting.  They  none  the  less  re- 
main truths. 

Substitute  for  the  term  "  employee  "  in  one  of  our 
new  laws  the  term  "  serf,"  even  do  so  mild  a  thing  as 



to  substitute  the  traditional  term  "  master  "  for  the 
word  "  employer,"  and  the  blunt  words  might  breed 
revolt.  Impose  of  a  sudden  the  full  conditions  of  a 
Servile  State  upon  modern  England,  and  it  would 
certainly  breed  revolt  But  my  point  is  that  when 
the  foundations  of  the  thing  have  to  be  laid  and  the 
first  great  steps  taken,  there  is  no  revolt;  on  the  con- 
trary, there  is  acquiescence  and  for  the  most  part 
gratitude  upon  the  part  of  the  poor.  After  the  long 
terrors  imposed  upon  them  through  a  freedom  unac- 
companied by  property,  they  see,  at  the  expense  of 
losing  a  mere  legal  freedom,  the  very  real  prospect 
of  having  enough  and  not  losing  it. 

All  forces,  then,  are  making  for  the  Servile  State 
in  this  the  final  phase  of  our  evil  Capitalist  society 
in  England.  The  generous  reformer  is  canalised  to- 
wards it ;  the  ungenerous  one  finds  it  a  very  mirror 
of  his  ideal ;  the  herd  of  "  practical "  men  meet  at 
every  stage  in  its  inception  the  "  practical "  steps 
which  they  expected  and  demanded ;  while  that  pro- 
letarian mass  upon  whom  the  experiment  is  being 
tried  have  lost  the  tradition  of  property  and  of  free- 
dom which  might  resist  the  change,  and  are  most 
powerfully  inclined  to  its  acceptance  by  the  positive 
benefits  which  it  confers. 

It  may  be  objected  that  however  true  all  this  may 
be,  no  one  can,  upon  such  theoretical  grounds,  regard 
the  Servile  State  as  something  really  approaching 



us.  We  need  not  believe  in  its  advent  (we  shall  be 
told)  until  we  see  the  first  effects  of  its  action. 

To  this  I  answer  that  the  first  effects  of  its  action 
are  already  apparent  The  Servile  State  is,  in  indus- 
trial England  to-day,  no  longer  a  menace  but  some- 
thing in  actual  existence.  It  is  in  process  of  con- 
struction. The  first  main  lines  of  it  are  already  plotted 
out ;  the  corner-stone  of  it  is  already  laid. 

To  see  the  truth  of  this  it  is  enough  to  consider 
laws  and  projects  of  law,  the  first  of  which  we  already 
enjoy,  while  the  last  will  pass  from  project  to  posi- 
tive statute  in  due  process  of  time. 


There  is  an  impression  abroad  among  those  who  pro- 
pose to  expropriate  the  Capitalist  class  for  the  benefit  of 
the  State,  but  who  appreciate  the  difficulties  in  the  way  of 
direct  confiscation,  that  by  spreading  the  process  over  a 
sufficient  number  of  years  and  pursuing  it  after  a  certain 
fashion  bearing  all  the  outward  appearances  of  a  purchase, 
the  expropriation  could  be  effected  without  the  conse- 
quences and  attendant  difficulties  of  direct  confiscation. 
In  other  words,  there  is  an  impression  that  the  State  could 
"  buy-out "  the  Capitalist  class  without  their  knowing  it, 
and  that  in  a  sort  of  painless  way  this  class  can  be  slowly 
conjured  out  of  existence. 

The  impression  is  held  in  a  confused  fashion  by  most 
of  those  who  cherish  it,  and  will  not  bear  a  clear  analysis. 
145  10 


It  is  impossible  by  any  jugglery  to  "buy-out"  the  univer- 
sality of  the  means  of  production  without  confiscation. 

To  prove  this,  consider  a  concrete  case  which  puts  the 
problem  in  the  simplest  terms  : — 

A  community  of  twenty-two  families  lives  upon  the  pro- 
duce of  two  farms,  the  property  of  only  two  families  out 
of  that  twenty-two. 

The  remaining  twenty  families  are  Proletarian.  The 
two  families,  with  their  ploughs,  stores,  land,  etc.,  are 

The  labour  of  the  twenty  proletarian  families  applied  to 
the  land  and  capital  of  these  two  capitalist  families  pro- 
duces 300  measures  of  wheat,  of  which  200  measures,  or 
10  measures  each,  form  the  annual  support  of  the  twenty 
proletarian  families  ;  the  remaining  100  measures  are  the 
surplus  value  retained  as  rent,  interest,  and  profit  by  the 
two  Capitalist  families,  each  of  which  has  thus  a  yearly 
income  of  50  measures. 

The  State  proposes  to  produce,  after  a  certain  length 
of  time,  a  condition  of  affairs  such  that  the  surplus  values 
shall  no  longer  go  to  the  two  Capitalist  families,  but  shall 
be  distributed  to  the  advantage  of  the  whole  community, 
while  it,  the  State,  shall  itself  become  the  unembarrassed 
owner  of  both  farms. 

Now  capital  is  accumulated  with  the  object  of  a  certain 
return  as  the  reward  of  accumulation.  Instead  of  spend- 
ing his  money,  a  man  saves  it  with  the  object  of  retaining 
as  the  result  of  that  saving  a  certain  yearly  revenue.  The 
measure  of  this  does  not  fall  in  a  particular  society  at  a 
particular  time  below  a  certain  level.  In  other  words,  if 
a  man  cannot  get  a  certain  minimum  reward  for  his  ac- 
cumulation, he  will  not  accumulate  but  spend. 

What  is  called  in  economics  "  The  Law  of  Diminishing 



Returns  "  acts  so  that  continual  additions  to  capital,  other 
things  being  equal  (that  is,  the  methods  of  production  re- 
maining the  same),  do  not  provide  a  corresponding  increase 
of  revenue.  A  thousand  measures  of  capital  applied  to  a 
particular  area  of  natural  forces  will  produce,  for  instance, 
40  measures  yearly,  or  4  per  cent. ;  but  2000  measures 
applied  in  the  same  fashion  will  not  produce  80  meas- 
ures. They  will  produce  more  than  the  thousand  measures 
did,  but  not  more  in  proportion  ;  not  double.  They  will 
produce,  say,  60  measures,  or  3  per  cent.,  upon  the  cap- 
ital. The  action  of  this  universal  principle  automatically 
checks  the  accumulation  of  capital  when  it  has  reached 
such  a  point  that  the  proportionate  return  is  the  least 
which  a  man  will  accept.  If  it  falls  below  that  he  will 
spend  rather  than  accumulate.  The  limit  of  this  mini- 
mum in  any  particular  society  at  any  particular  time  gives 
the  measure  to  what  we  call  "the  Effective  Desire  of  Ac- 
cumulation." Thus  in  England  to-day  it  is  a  little  over  3 
per  cent.  The  minimum  which  limits  the  accumulation  of 
capital  is  a  mimimum  return  of  about  one-thirtieth  yearly 
upon  such  capital,  and  this  we  may  call  for  shortness  the 
"  E.D.A."  of  our  society  at  the  present  time. 

When,  therefore,  the  Capitalist  estimates  the  full  value 
of  his  possessions,  he  counts  them  in  "so  many  years'  pur- 
chase."* And  that  means  that  he  is  willing  to  take  in  a 
lump  sum  down  for  his  possessions  so  many  times  the  year- 
ly revenue  which  he  at  present  enjoys.  If  his  E.D.A.  is 

*  By  an  illusion  which  clever  statesmanship  could  use  to  the  advan- 
tage of  the  community,  he  even  estimates  the  natural  forces  he  con- 
trols (which  need  no  accumulation,  but  are  always  present)  on  the 
analogy  of  his  capital,  and  will  part  with  them  at  "  so  many  years' 
purchase."  It  is  by  taking  advantage  of  this  illusion  that  land  pur- 
chase schemes  (as  in  Ireland)  happily  work  to  the  advantage  of  the 



one-thirtieth,  he  will  take  a  lump  sum  representing  thirty 
times  his  annual  revenue. 

So  far  so  good.  Let  us  suppose  the  two  Capitalists  in 
our  example  to  have  an  E.D.A.  of  one-thirtieth.  They 
will  sell  to  the  State  if  the  State  can  put  up  3000  measures 
of  wheat. 

Now,  of  course,  the  State  can  do  nothing  of  the  kind. 
The  accumulations  of  wheat  being  already  in  the  hands 
of  the  Capitalists,  and  those  accumulations  amounting  to 
much  less  than  3000  measures  of  wheat,  the  thing  appears 
to  be  a  deadlock. 

But  it  is  not  a  deadlock  if  the  Capitalist  is  a  fool.  The 
State  can  go  to  the  Capitalists  and  say :  "  Hand  me  over 
your  farms,  and  against  them  I  will  give  you  guarantee 
that  you  shall  be  paid  rather  more  than  100  measures  of 
wheat  a  year  for  the  thirty  years.  In  fact,  I  will  pay  you 
half  as  much  again  until  these  extra  payments  amount  to 
a  purchase  of  your  original  stock." 

Out  of  what  does  this  extra  amount  come  ?  Out  of  the 
State's  power  to  tax. 

The  State  can  levy  a  tax  upon  the  profits  of  both  Cap- 
italists A  and  B,  and  pay  them  the  extra  with  their  own 

In  so  simple  an  example  it  is  evident  that  this  "  ringing 
of  the  changes "  would  be  spotted  by  the  victims,  and  that 
they  would  bring  against  it  precisely  the  same  forces  which 
they  would  bring  against  the  much  simpler  and  more 
straightforward  process  of  immediate  confiscation. 

But  it  is  argued  that  in  a  complex  State,  where  you  are 
dealing  with  myriads  of  individual  Capitalists  and  thou- 
sands of  particular  forms  of  profit,  the  process  can  be 

There  are  two  ways  in  which  the  State  can  mask  its 



action  (according  to  this  policy).  It  can  buy  out  first  one 
small  area  of  land  and  capital  out  of  the  general  taxation 
and  then  another,  and  then  another,  until  the  whole  has 
been  transferred ;  or  it  can  tax  with  peculiar  severity  certain 
trades  which  the  rest  who  are  left  immune  will  abandon  to 
their  ruin,  and  with  the  general  taxation  plus  this  special 
taxation  buy  out  those  unfortunate  trades  which  will,  of 
course,  have  sunk  heavily  in  value  under  the  attack. 

The  second  of  these  tricks  will  soon  be  apparent  in  any 
society,  however  complex;  for  after  one  unpopular  trade 
had  been  selected  for  attack  the  trying  on  of  the  same  me- 
thods in  another  less  unpopular  field  will  at  once  rouse  sus- 

The  first  method,  however,  might  have  some  chance  of 
success,  at  least  for  a  long  time  after  it  was  begun,  in  a 
highly  complex  and  numerous  society  were  it  not  for  a 
certain  check  which  comes  in  of  itself.  That  check  is  the 
fact  that  the  Capitalist  only  takes  more  than  his  old  yearly 
revenue  with  the  object  of  reinvesting  the  surplus. 

I  have  a  thousand  pounds  in  Brighton  railway  stock, 
yielding  me  3  per  cent.  :  ^30  a  year.  The  Government 
asks  me  to  exchange  my  bit  of  paper  against  another  bit 
of  paper  guaranteeing  the  payment  of  ^50  a  year,  that  is, 
an  extra  rate  a  year,  for  so  many  years  as  will  represent 
over  and  above  the  regular  interest  paid  a  purchase  of  my 
stock.  The  Government's  bit  of  paper  promises  to  pay  to 
the  holder  ^50  a  year  for,  say,  thirty-eight  years.  I  am 
delighted  to  make  the  exchange,  not  because  I  am  such  a 
fool  as  to  enjoy  the  prospect  of  my  property  being  extin- 
guished at  the  end  of  thirty-eight  years,  but  because  I  hope 

*  Thus  you  can  raid  the  brewers  in  a  society  half-Puritan  where 
brewing  is  thought  immoral  by  many,  but  proceed  to  railway  stock 
and  it  will  be  a  very  different  matter. 



to  be  able  to  reinvest  the  extra  £20  every  year  in  some- 
thing else  that  will  bring  me  in  3  per  cent.  Thus,  at  the 
end  of  the  thirty-eight  years  I  shall  (or  my  heirs)  be  better 
off  than  I  was  at  the  beginning  of  the  transaction,  and  I 
shall  have  enjoyed  during  its  maturing  my  old  ^30  a  year 
all  the  same. 

The  State  can  purchase  thus  on  a  small  scale  by  subsi- 
dising purchase  out  of  the  general  taxation.  It  can,  there- 
fore, play  this  trick  over  a  small  area  and  for  a  short  time 
with  success.  But  the  moment  this  area  passes  a  very  nar- 
row limit  the  "  market  for  investment "  is  found  to  be  re- 
stricted, Capital  automatically  takes  alarm,  the  State  can  no 
longer  offer  its  paper  guarantees  save  at  an  enhanced  price. 
If  it  tries  to  turn  the  position  by  further  raising  taxation  to 
what  Capital  regards  as  "  confiscatory  "  rates,  there  will  be 
opposed  to  its  action  just  the  same  forces  as  would  be  op- 
posed to  frank  and  open  expropriation. 

The  matter  is  one  of  plain  arithmetic,  and  all  the  con- 
fusion introduced  by  the  complex  mechanism  of  "finance  " 
can  no  more  change  the  fundamental  and  arithmetical  prin- 
ciples involved  than  can  the  accumulation  of  triangles  in  an 
ordnance  survey  reduce  the  internal  angles  of  the  largest 
triangle  to  less  than  180  degrees.*  In  fine:  if  you  desire 
to  confiscate,  you  must  confiscate. 

You  cannot  outflank  the  enemy,  as  Financiers  in  the  city 
and  sharpers  on  the  race-course  outflank  the  simpler  of 
mankind,  nor  can  you  conduct  the  general  process  of  expro- 
priation upon  a  muddle-headed  hope  that  somehow  or  other 
something  will  come  out  of  nothing  in  the  end. 

There  are,  indeed,  two  ways  in  which  the  State  could  ex- 

*  In  using  this  metaphor  I  at  once  record  my  apologies  to  those 
who  believe  in  elliptical  and  hyperbolic  universes,  and  confess  myself 
an  old-fashioned  parabolist.  Further,  I  admit  that  the  triangles  in 
question  are  spherical. 



propriate  without  meeting  the  resistance  that  must  be  pres- 
ent against  any  attempt  at  confiscation.  But  the  first  of 
these  ways  is  precarious,  the  second  insufficient. 

They  are  as  follows : — 

(i)  The  State  can  promise  the  Capitalist  a  larger  yearly 
revenue  than  he  is  getting  in  the  expectation  that  it,  the 
State,  can  manage  the  business  better  than  the  Capitalist, 
or  that  some  future  expansion  will  come  to  its  aid.  In  other 
words,  if  the  State  makes  a  bigger  profit  out  of  the  thing  than 
the  Capitalist,  it  can  buy  out  the  Capitalist  just  as  a  private 
individual  with  a  similar  business  proposition  can  buy  him 

But  the  converse  of  this  is  that  if  the  State  has  calculated 
badly,  or  has  bad  luck,  it  would  find  itself  endowing  the 
Capitalists  of  the  future  instead  of  gradually  extinguishing 

In  this  fashion  the  State  could  have  "socialised  "  without 
confiscation  the  railways  of  this  country  if  it  had  taken  them 
over  fifty  years  ago,  promising  the  then  owners  more  than 
they  were  then  obtaining.  But  if  it  had  socialised  the  han- 
som cab  in  the  nineties,  it  would  now  be  supporting  in  per- 
petuity that  worthy  but  extinct  type  the  cab-owner  (and  his 
children  for  ever)  at  the  expense  of  the  community. 

The  second  way  in  which  the  State  can  expropriate  with- 
out confiscation  is  by  annuity.  It  can  say  to  such  Capital- 
ists as  have  no  heirs  or  care  little  for  their  fate  if  they  have  : 
"  You  have  only  got  so  much  time  to  live  and  to  enjoy  your 
£30,  will  you  take  ^£50  until  you  die?"  Upon  the  bar- 
gain being  accepted  the  State  will,  in  process  of  time,  though 
not  immediately  upon  the  death  of  the  annuitant,  become 
an  unembarrassed  owner  of  what  had  been  the  annuitant's 
share  in  the  means  of  production.  But  the  area  over  which 
this  method  can  be  exercised  is  a  very  small  one.  It  is  not 


of  itself  a  sufficient  instrument  for  the  expropriation  of  any 
considerable  field. 

I  need  hardly  add  that  as  a  matter  of  fact  the  so-called 
"  Socialist "  and  confiscatory  measures  of  our  time  have 
nothing  to  do  with  the  problem  here  discussed.  The  State 
is  indeed  confiscating,  that  is,  it  is  taxing  in  many  cases  in 
such  a  fashion  as  to  impoverish  the  tax-payer  and  is  lessen- 
ing his  capital  rather  than  shearing  his  income.  But  it  is 
not  putting  the  proceeds  into  the  means  of  production.  It 
is  either  usingthem  for  immediateconsumptionin  the  shape 
of  new  official  salaries  or  handing  them  over  to  another  set 
of  Capitalists.* 

But  these  practical  considerations  of  the  way  in  which 
sham  Socialist  experiments  are  working  belong  rather  to 
my  next  section,  in  which  I  shall  deal  with  the  actual  be- 
ginnings of  the  Servile  State  in  our  midst. 

*  Thus  the  money  levied  upon  the  death  of  some  not  very  wealthy 
squire  and  represented  by,  say,  locomotives  in  the  Argentine,  turns 
into  two  miles  of  palings  for  the  pleasant  back  gardens  of  a  thousand 
new  officials  under  the  Inebriates  Bill,  or  is  simply  handed  over  to  the 
shareholders  of  the  Prudential  under  the  Insurance  Act.  In  the  first 
case  the  locomotives  have  been  given  back  to  the  Argentine,  and 
after  a  long  series  of  exchanges  have  been  bartered  against  a  great 
number  of  wood -palings  from  the  Baltic — not  exactly  reproductive 
wealth.  In  the  second  case  the  locomotives  which  used  to  be  the 
squire's  hands  become,  or  their  equivalent  becomes,  means  of  produc- 
tion in  the  hands  of  the  Sassoons. 





deal  with  the  actual  appearance  of  the  Servile  State 
in  certain  laws  and  proposals  now  familiar  to  the 
Industrial  Society  of  modern  England.  These  are 
the  patent  objects,  "laws  and  projects  of  laws,"  which 
lend  stuff  to  my  argument,  and  show  that  it  is  based 
not  upon  a  mere  deduction,  but  upon  an  observation 
of  things. 

Two  forms  of  this  proof  are  evident:  first,  the  laws 
and  proposals  which  subject  the  Proletariat  to  Servile 
conditions  ;  next,  the  fact  that  the  Capitalist,  so  far 
from  being  expropriated  by  modern  "  Socialist "  ex- 
periments, is  being  confirmed  in  his  power. 

I  take  these  in  their  order,  and  I  begin  by  asking 
in  what  statutes  or  proposals  the  Servile  State  first 
appeared  among  us. 

A  false  conception  of  our  subject  might  lead  one 
to  find  the  origins  of  the  Servile  State  in  the  restric- 
tions imposed  upon  certain  forms  of  manufacture, 
and  the  corresponding  duties  laid  upon  the  Capital- 
ist in  the  interest  of  his  workmen.  The  Factory  Laws, 
as  they  are  in  this  country,  would  seem  to  offer  upon 
this  superficial  and  erroneous  view  a  starting  point. 
They  do  nothing  of  the  kind  ;  and  the  view  is  super- 
ficial and  erroneous  because  it  neglects  the  funda- 
mentals of  the  case.  What  distinguishes  the  Servile 
State  is  not  the  interference  of  law  with  the  action 


of  any  citizen  even  in  connection  with  industrial 
matters.  Such  interference  may  or  may  not  indicate 
the  presence  of  a  Servile  status.  It  in  no  way  indi- 
cates the  presence  of  that  status  when  it  forbids  a 
particular  kind  of  human  action  to  be  undertaken  by 
the  citizen  as  a  citizen. 

The  legislator  says,  for  instance,  "  You  may  pluck 
roses ;  but  as  I  notice  that  you  sometimes  scratch 
yourself,  I  will  put  you  in  prison  unless  you  cut  them 
with  scissors  at  least  122  millimetres  long,  and  I  will 
appoint  one  thousand  inspectors  to  go  round  the 
country  seeing  whether  the  law  is  observed.  My 
brother-in-law  shall  be  at  the  head  of  the  Department- 
at  ,£2000  a  year." 

We  are  all  familiar  with  that  type  of  legislation. 
Weareall  familiar  with  the  arguments  for  and  against 
it  in  any  particular  case.  We  may  regard  it  as  oner- 
ous, futile,  or  beneficent,  or  in  any  other  light,  accord- 
ing to  our  various  temperaments.  But  it  does  not  fall 
within  the  category  of  servile  legislation,  because  it 
establishes  no  distinction  between  two  classes  of  citi- 
zens, marking  off  the  one  as  legally  distinct  from  the 
other  by  a  criterion  of  manual  labour  or  of  income. 

This  is  even  true  of  such  regulations  as  those  which 
compel  a  Cotton  Mill,  for  instance,  to  have  no  less 
than  such  and  such  an  amount  of  cubic  space  for  each 
operative,  and  such  and  such  protection  for  dangerous 
machinery.  These  laws  do  not  concern  themselves 



with  the  nature,  the  amount,  or  even  the  existence 
of  a  contract  for  service.  The  object,  for  example,  of 
the  law  which  compels  one  to  fence  off  certain  types 
of  machinery  is  simply  to  protect  human  life,  regard- 
less of  whether  the  human  being  so  protected  is  rich 
or  poor,  Capitalist  or  Proletarian.  These  laws  may 
in  effect  work  in  our  society  so  that  the  Capitalist  is 
made  responsible  for  the  Proletarian,  but  he  is  not 
responsible  qua  Capitalist,  nor  is  the  Proletarian  pro- 
tected qud  Proletarian. 

In  the  same  way  the  law  may  compel  me,  if  I  am 
a  Riparian  owner,  to  put  up  a  fence  of  statutory 
strength  wherever  the  water  of  my  river  is  of  more 
than  a  statutory  depth.  Now  it  cannot  compel  me 
to  do  this  unless  I  am  the  owner  of  the  land.  In  a 
sense,  therefore,  this  might  be  called  the  recognition 
of  my  Status,  because,  by  the  nature  of  the  case,  only 
landowners  can  be  affected  by  the  law,  and  land- 
owners would  be  compelled  by  it  to  safeguard  the 
lives  of  all,  whether  they  were  or  were  not  owners  of 

But  the  category  so  established  would  be  purely 
accidental.  The  object  and  method  of  the  law  do 
not  concern  themselves  with  a  distinction  between 

A  close  observer  might  indeed  discover  certain 
points  in  the  Factory  laws,  details  and  phrases,  which 
did  distinctly  connote  the  existence  of  a  Capitalist 


and  of  a  Proletarian  class.  But  we  must  take  the 
statutes  as  a  whole  and  the  order  in  which  they  were 
produced,  above  all,  the  general  motive  and  expres- 
sions governing  each  main  statute,  in  order  to  judge 
whether  such  examples  of  interference  give  us  an 
origin  or  not 

The  verdict  will  be  that  they  do  not.  Such  legis- 
lation may  be  oppressive  in  any  degree  or  necessary 
in  any  degree,  but  it  does  not  establish  status  in  the 
place  of  contract,  and  it  is  not,  therefore,  servile. 

Neither  are  those  laws  servile  which  in  practice 
attach  to  the  poor  and  not  to  the  rich.  Compulsory 
education  is  in  legal  theory  required  of  every  citizen 
for  his  children.  The  state  of  mind  which  goes  with 
plutocracy  exempts  of  course  all  above  a  certain 
standard  of  wealth  from  this  law.  But  the  law  does 
apply  to  the  universality  of  the  commonwealth, 
and  all  families  resident  in  Great  Britain  (not  in 
Ireland)  are  subject  to  its  provisions. 

These  are  not  origins.  A  true  origin  to  the  legis- 
lation I  approach  comes  later.  The  first  example  of 
servile  legislation  to  be  discovered  upon  the  Statute 
Book  is  that  which  establishes  the  present  form  of 
Employer  s  Liability. 

I  am  far  from  saying  that  that  law  was  passed,  as 
modern  laws  are  beginning  to  be  passed,  with  the 
direct  object  of  establishing  a  new  status ;  though  it 
was  passed  with  someconsciousnesson  the  part  of  the 



legislator  that  such  a  new  status  was  in  existence  as 
a  social  fact.  Its  motive  was  merely  humane,  and  the 
relief  which  it  afforded  seemed  merely  necessary  at 
the  time  ;  but  it  is  an  instructive  example  of  the  way 
in  which  a  small  neglect  of  strict  doctrine  and  a  slight 
toleration  of  anomaly  admit  great  changes  into  the 

There  had  existed  from  all  time  in  every  com- 
munity, and  there  was  founded  upon  common  sense, 
the  legal  doctrine  that  if  one  citizen  was  so  placed 
with  regard  to  another  by  contract  that  he  must  in 
the  fulfilment  of  that  contract  perform  certain  ser- 
vices, and  if  those  services  accidentally  involved 
damages  to  a  third  party,  not  the  actual  perpetrator 
of  the  damage,  but  he  who  designed  the  particular 
operation  leading  to  it  was  responsible. 

The  point  is  subtle,  but,  as  I  say,  fundamental.  It 
involved  no  distinction  of  status  between  employer 
and  employed. 

Citizen  A  offered  citizen  B  a  sack  of  wheat  down 
if  citizen  B  would  plough  for  him  a  piece  of  land 
which  might  or  might  not  produce  more  than  a  sack 
of  wheat. 

Of  course  citizen  A  expected  it  would  produce 
more,  and  was  awaiting  a  surplus  value,  or  he  would 
not  have  made  the  contract  with  citizen  B.  But,  at 
any  rate,  citizen  B  put  his  name  to  the  agreement, 
and  as  a  free  man,  capable  of  contracting,  was  cor- 


respondingly  bound  to  fulfil  it. 

In  fulfilling  this  contract  the  ploughshare  B  is 
driving  destroys  a  pipe  conveying  water  by  agree- 
ment through  A's  land  to  C.  C  suffers  damage,  and 
to  recover  the  equivalent  of  that  damage  his  action 
in  justice  and  common  sense  can  only  be  against  A, 
for  B  was  carrying  out  a  plan  and  instruction  of  which 
A  was  the  author.  C  is  a  third  party  who  had  noth- 
ing to  do  with  such  a  contract  and  could  not  possibly 
have  justice  save  by  his  chances  of  getting  it  from 
A,  who  was  the  true  author  of  the  unintentional  loss 
inflicted,  since  he  designed  the  course  of  work. 

But  when  the  damage  is  not  done  to  C  at  all,  but 
to  B,  who  is  concerned  with  a  work  the  risks  of  which 
are  known  and  willingly  undertaken,  it  is  quite  an- 
other matter. 

Citizen  A  contracts  with  citizen  B  that  citizen  B, 
in  consideration  of  a  sack  of  wheat,  shall  plough  a  bit 
of  land.  Certain  known  risks  must  attach  to  that 
operation.  Citizen  B,  if  he  is  a  free  man,  undertakes 
those  risks  with  his  eyes  open.  For  instance,  he  may 
sprain  his  wrist  in  turning  the  plough,  or  one  of  the 
horses  may  kick  him  while  he  is  having  his  bread-and- 
cheese.  If  upon  such  an  accident  A  is  compelled  to 
pay  damages  to  B,  a  difference  of  status  is  at  once  re- 
cognised. B  undertook  to  do  work  which,  by  all  the 
theory  of  free  contract,  was,  with  its  risks  and  its 
expense  of  energy,  the  equivalent  in  B's  own  eyes  of 

1 60 


a  sack  of  wheat ;  yet  a  law  is  passed  to  say  that  B 
can  have  more  than  that  sack  of  wheat  if  he  is  hurt. 

There  is  no  converse  right  of  A  against  B.  If  the 
employer  suffers  by  suchan  accident  to  the  employee, 
he  is  not  allowed  to  dock  that  sack  of  wheat,  though 
it  was  regarded  in  the  contract  as  the  equivalent  to 
a  certain  amount  of  labour  to  be  performed  which, 
as  a  fact,  has  not  been  performed.  A  has  no  action 
unless  B  has  been  culpably  negligent  or  remiss.  In 
other  words,  the  mere  fact  that  one  man  is  working 
and  the  other  not  is  the  fundamental  consideration 
on  which  the  law  is  built,  and  the  law  says :  "  You 
are  not  a  free  man  making  a  free  contract  with  all 
its  consequences.  You  are  a  worker,  and  therefore  an 
inferior :  you  are  an  employee ;  and  that  status  gives 
you  a  special  position  which  would  not  be  recognised 
in  the  other  party  to  the  contract." 

The  principle  is  pushed  still  further  when  an  em- 
ployer is  made  liable  for  an  accident  happening  to  one 
of  his  employees  at  the  hands  of  another  employee. 

A  gives  a  sack  of  wheat  to  Band  D  each  if  they  will 
dig  a  well  for  him.  All  three  parties  are  cognisant 
of  the  risks  and  accept  them  in  the  contract.  B,  hold- 
ing the  rope  on  which  D  is  lowered,  lets  it  slip.  If 
they  were  all  three  men  of  exactly  equal  status,  obvi- 
ously D's  action  would  be  against  B.  But  they  are 
not  of  equal  status  in  England  to-day.  B  and  D  are 
employees^  and  are  therefore  in  a  special  and  inferior 
161  II 


position  before  the  law  com  pared  with  their  employer 
A.  D's  action  is,  by  this  novel  principle,  no  longer 
against  B,  who  accidentally  injured  him  by  a  per- 
sonal act,  however  involuntary,  for  which  a  free  man 
would  be  responsible,  but  against  A,  who  was  inno- 
cent of  the  whole  business. 

Now  in  all  this  it  is  quite  clear  that  A  has  peculiar 
duties  not  because  he  is  a  citizen,  but  because  he  is 
something  more :  an  employer ;  and  B  and  D  have 
special  claims  on  A,  not  because  they  are  citizens,but 
becausetheyaresomethingless:  viz. employees.  They 
can  claim  protection  from  A,  as  inferiors  of  a  superior 
in  a  State  admitting  such  distinctions  and  patronage^ 

It  will  occur  at  once  to  the  reader  that  in  our  ex- 
isting social  state  the  employee  will  be  very  grateful 
for  such  legislation.  One  workman  cannot  recover 
from  another  simply  because  the  other  will  have  no 
goods  out  of  which  to  pay  damages.  Let  the  burden, 
therefore,  fall  upon  the  rich  man  ! 

Excellent.  But  that  is  not  the  point.  Toarguethus 
is  to  say  that  Servile  legislation  is  necessary  if  we  are 
tosolvetheproblemsraisedbyCapitalism.  Itremains 
servile  legislation  none  the  less.  It  is  legislation  that 
would  not  exist  in  a  society  where  property  was  well 
divided  and  where  a  citizen  could  normally  pay 
damages  for  the  harm  he  had  himself  caused.* 

*  How  true  it  is  that  the  idea  of  status  underlies  this  legis- 
lation can  easily  be  tested  by  taking  parallel  cases,inoneof  which 



This  first  trickle  of  the  stream,  however,  though  it 
is  of  considerable  historical  interest  as  a  point  of  de- 
parture, is  not  of  very  definite  moment  to  our  subject 
compared  with  the  great  bulk  of  later  proposals,  some 
of  which  are  already  law,  others  upon  the  point  of 
becoming  law,  and  which  definitely  recognise  the 
Servile  State,  the  re-establishment  of  status  in  the 
place  of  contract,  and  the  universal  division  of  citi- 
zens into  two  categories  of  employers  and  employed. 

These  last  merit  a  very  different  consideration, 
for  they  will  represent  to  history  the  conscious  and 
designed  entry  of  Servile  Institutions  into  the  old 
Christian  State.  They  are  not  "origins,"  small  indi- 
cations of  comingchange  which  thehistorian  will  pain- 
fully discover  as  a  curiosity.  They  are  the  admitted 
foundations  of  a  new  order,  deliberately  planned  by 
a  few,  confusedly  accepted  by  the  many,  as  the  basis 
upon  which  a  novel  and  stable  society  shall  arise  to 
replace  the  unstable  and  passing  phase  of  Capitalism. 

working  men  are  concerned,  in  the  other  the  professional  class. 
If  I  contract  to  write  for  a  publisher  a  complete  History  of  the 
County  of  Rutland,  and  in  the  pursuit  of  that  task,  while  exam- 
ining some  object  of  historical  interest,  fall  down  a  pit,  I  should 
not  be  able  to  recover  against  the  publisher.  But  if  I  dress  in 
mean  clothes,  and  the  same  publisher,  deceived,  gives  me  a 
month's  work  at  cleaning  out  his  ornamental  water  and  I  am 
wounded  in  that  occupation  by  a  fierce  fish,  he  will  be  mulcted 
to  my  advantage,  and  that  roundly. 



They  fall  roughly  into  three  categories  : — 

(1)  Measures  by  which  the  insecurity  of  the  prole- 
tariat shall  be  relieved  through  the  action  of  the  em- 
ploying class,  or  of  the  proletariat  itself  acting  under 

(2)  Measures  by  which  the  employer  shall  be  com- 
pelled to  give  not  less  thanacertain  minimum  forany 
labour  he  may  purchase,  and 

(3)  Measures  which  compel  a  man  lacking  the 
means  of  production  to  labour,  though  he  may  have 
made  no  contract  to  that  effect. 

The  last  two,  as  will  be  seen  in  a  moment,  are  com- 
plementary one  of  another. 

As  to  the  first:  Measures  to  palliate  the  insecurity 
of  the  proletariat. 

We  have  of  this  an  example  in  actual  law  at  this 
moment.  And  that  law — the  Insurance  Act — (whose 
political  source  and  motive  I  am  not  here  discussing) 
follows  in  every  particular  the  lines  of  a  Servile  State. 

(a)  Its  fundamental  criterion  is  employment.  In 
other  words,  I  am  compelled  to  enter  a  scheme  provid- 
ing me  against  the  mischances  of  illness  and  unem  • 
ployment  not  because  I  am  a  citizen,  but  only  if  I  am: 

(1)  Exchanging  services  for  goods;  and  either 

(2)  Obtaining  less  than  a  certain  amount  of  goods 
for  those  services,  or 

(3)  A  vulgar  fellow  working  with  his  hands. 
Thelawcarefullyexcludes  from  itsprovisionsthose 



forms  of  labour  to  which  the  educated  and  therefore 
powerful  classesaresubject,andfurtherexcludesfrom 
compulsion  the  mass  of  those  who  are  forthemoment 
earning  enough  to  make  them  a  class  to  be  reckoned 
with  as  economically  free.  I  may  be  a  writer  of  books 
who,shouldhe  fall  ill,  will  leave  in  thegreatestdistress 
the  family  which  he  supports.  If  the  legislator  were 
concerned  for  the  morals  of  citizens,  I  should  most 
undoubtedly  come  under  this  law,  under  the  form  of 
a  compulsory  insuranceadded  to  my  income  tax.  But 
the  legislator  is  not  concerned  with  people  of  my  sort. 
He  is  concerned  with  anewstatuswhichherecognises 
in  the  State,  to  wit,  the  proletariat.  He  envisages  the 
proletariat  not  quiteaccuratelyasmen  either  poor, or, 
if  they  are  not  poor,  at  any  rate  vulgar  people  working 
with  their  hands,  and  he  legislates  accordingly. 

(b)  Still  an  example  of  status  tak- 
ing the  place  of  contract,  is  the  fact  that  this  law  puts 
the  duty  of  controlling  the  proletariat  and  of  seeing 
that  the  law  is  obeyed  not  upon  the  proletariat  itself, 
but  upon  the  Capitalist  class. 

Now  this  point  is  of  an  importance  that  cannot  be 

The  future  historian,  whatever  his  interest  in  the 
first  indications  of  that  profound  revolution  through 
which  we  are  so  rapidly  passing,  will  most  certainly 
fix  upon  that  one  point  as  the  cardinal  landmark  of 
our  times.  The  legislator  surveying  the  Capitalist 


State  proposes  as  a  remedy  for  certain  of  its  evils  the 
establishment  of  two  categories  in  the  State,  compels 
the  lower  man  to  registration,  to  a  tax,  and  the  rest  of 
it,and  further  compels  the  upper  man  to  be  the  instru- 
ment in  enforcing  that  registration  and  in  collecting 
that  tax.  No  one  acquainted  with  the  way  in  which 
any  one  of  the  great  changes  of  the  past  has  taken  place, 
the  substitution  of  tenure  for  the  Roman  proprietary 
right  in  land.orthesubstitution  of  the  mediaeval  peas- 
ant for  the  serf  of  the  Dark  Ages,  can  possibly  mis- 
understand the  significance  of  such  a  turning  point 
in  our  history. 

Whether  it  will  be  completed  or  whether  a  reaction 
will  destroy  it  is  another  matter.  Its  mere  proposal 
is  of  the  greatest  possible  moment  in  the  inquiry  we 
are  here  pursuing. 

Of  the  next  two  groups,  the  fixing  of  a  Minimum 
Wage  and  the  Compulsion  to  Labour  (which,  as  I  have 
said,  and  will  shortly  show,  are  complementary  one 
to  the  other),  neither  has  yet  appeared  in  actual  legis- 
lation, but  both  are  planned,  both  thought  out,  both 
possessed  of  powerful  advocates,  and  both  upon  the 
threshold  of  positive  law. 

The  fixing  of  a  Minimum  Wage,  with  a  definite 
sum  fixed  by  statute,  has  not  yet  entered  our  laws, 
but  the  first  step  towards  such  a  consummation  has 
been  taken  in  theshapeof  giving  legal  sanction  tosome 

1 66 


hypothetical  Minimum  Wage  which  shall  be  arrived 
at  after  discussion  within  a  particular  trade.  That 
trade  is,of  course, the  mining  industry.  The  law  does 
not  say  :  "  No  Capitalist  shall  pay  a  miner  less  than 
so  many  shillings  for  so  many  hours'  work."  But  it 
does  say:  "Figures  having  been  arrived  at  by  local 
boards,  any  miner  working  within  the  area  of  each 
board  can  claim  by  force  of  law  the  minimum  sum 
established  by  such  boards."  It  is  evident  that  from 
this  step  to  the  next,  which  shall  define  some  sliding 
scale  of  remuneration  for  labour  according  to  prices 
and  the  profits  of  capital,  is  an  easy  and  natural  trans- 
ition. It  would  give  both  parties  what  each  immedi- 
ately requires:  to  capital  a  guarantee  against  disturb- 
ance ;  to  labour  sufficiency  and  security.  The  whole 
thingisanexcellentobjectlessonin  little  of  that  gene- 
ral movement  from  free  contract  to  status,  and  from 
the  Capitalist  to  the  Servile  State,  which  is  the  tide 
of  our  time. 

The  neglect  of  older  principles  as  abstract  and  doc- 
trinaire; the  immediate  need  of  both  parties  immedi- 
ately satisfied ;  the  unforeseen  but  necessary  conse- 
quence of  satisfying  such  needs  in  such  a  fashion — 
all  these,  which  are  apparent  in  the  settlement  the 
mining  industry  has  begun, are  the  typical  forces  pro- 
ducing the  Servile  State. 

Consider  in  its  largest  aspect  the  nature  of  such  a 


The  Proletarian  accepts  a  position  in  which  he  pro- 
duces for  the  Capitalist  a  certain  total  of  economic 
values,  and  retains  out  of  that  total  a  portion  only, 
leaving  to  the  Capitalist  all  surplus  value.  The  Capi- 
talist, on  his  side,  is  guaranteed  in  the  secure  and 
permanent  expectation  of  that  surplus  value  through 
all  the  perils  of  social  envy;  the  Proletarian  is  guar- 
anteed in  a  sufficiency  and  a  security  for  that  suffi- 
ciency ;  but  by  the  very  action  of  such  a  guarantee 
there  is  withdrawn  from  him  the  power  to  refuse  his 
labour  and  thus  to  aim  at  putting  himself  in  posses- 
sion of  the  means  of  production. 

Such  schemes  definitely  divide  citizens  into  two 
classes,the  Capitalist  and  the  Proletarian.  They  make 
it  impossible  for  the  second  to  combat  the  privileged 
position  of  the  first.  They  introduce  into  the  positive 
laws  of  the  community  a  recognition  of  social  facts 
which  already  divide  Englishmen  into  two  groups  of 
economically  more  free  and  economically  less  free, 
and  they  stamp  with  the  authority  of  the  State  a 
new  constitution  of  society.  Society  is  recognised  as 
no  longer  consisting  of  free  men  bargaining  freely  for 
their  labour  or  any  other  commodity  in  their  posses- 
sion, but  of  two  contrasting  status,  owners  and  non- 
owners.  The  first  must  not  be  allowed  to  leave  the 
second  without  subsistence ;  the  second  must  not  be 
allowed  to  obtain  that  grip  upon  the  means  of  pro- 
duction which  is  the  privilege  of  the  first.  It  is  true 



that  this  first  experiment  is  small  in  degree  and  ten- 
tative in  quality  ;  but  to  judge  the  movement  as  a 
general  whole  we  must  not  only  consider  the  expres- 
sion it  has  actually  received  so  far  in  positive  law,  but 
the  mood  of  our  time. 

When  this  first  experiment  in  a  minimum  wage 
was  being  debated  in  Parliament,  what  was  the  great 
issue  of  debate  ?  Upon  what  did  those  who  were  the 
most  ardent  reformers  particularly  insist  ?  Not  that 
the  miners  should  have  an  avenue  open  to  them  for 
obtaining  possession  of  the  mines ;  not  even  that  the 
State  should  have  an  avenue  open  to  it  for  obtaining 
such  possession ;  but  that  the  minimum  wage  should  be 
fixed  at  a  certain  satisfactory  level  \  That,  as  our  re- 
cent experience  testifies  for  all  of  us,  was  the  crux  of 
thequarrel.  Andthatsuch  a  point  should  be  the  crux, 
not  the  socialisation  of  the  mines,  nor  the  admission 
of  the  proletariat  to  the  means  of  production,  but 
only  a  sufficiency  and  a  security  of  wage,is  amply  sig- 
nificant of  the  perhaps  irresistible  forces  which  are 
making  in  the  direction  for  which  I  argue  in  this  book. 

There  was  here  no  attempt  of  the  Capitalist  to  im- 
pose Servile  conditions  norof  the  Proletarian  to  resist 
them.  Both  parties  were  agreed  upon  that  funda- 
mental change.  Thediscussion  turnedupon  the  mini- 
mum limit  of  subsistence  to  be  securely  provided,  a 
point  which  left  aside,  because  it  took  for  granted, 
the  establishment  of  some  minimum  in  any  case. 


Next,  let  it  be  noted  (for  it  is  of  moment  to  a  later 
part  of  my  argument)  that  experiments  of  this  sort 
promise  to  extend  piecemeal.  There  is  no  likelihood, 
judging  by  men's  actions  and  speech,  of  some  grand 
general  scheme  for  the  establishment  of  a  minimum 
wage  throughout  the  community.  Such  a  scheme 
would,  of  course,  be  as  truly  an  establishment  of  the 
Servile  State  as  piecemeal  schemes.  But,  as  we  shall 
see  in  a  moment,  the  extension  of  the  principle  piece- 
meal has  a  considerable  effect  upon  the  forms  which 
compulsion  may  take. 

The  miners'  refusal  to  work,  with  the  exaggerated 
panic  it  caused,  bred  this  first  tentative  appearancepf 
the  minimum  wage  in  our  laws.  Normally,  capital 
prefers  free  labour  with  its  margin  of  destitution  ;  for 
such  an  anarchy,  ephemeral  though  it  is  of  its  nature, 
while  it  lasts  provides  cheap  labour ;  from  the  narrow- 
est point  of  view  it  provides  in  the  still  competitive 
areas  of  Capitalism  a  better  chance  for  profits. 

But  as  one  group  of  workmen  after  another,  con- 
cerned with  trades  immediately  necessary  to  the  life 
of  the  nation,  and  therefore  tolerating  but  little  inter- 
ruption, learn  the  power  which  combination  gives 
them,  it  is  inevitable  that  the  legislator  (concentrated 
as  he  is  upon  momentary  remedies  for  difficulties  as 
they  arise)  should  propose  for  one  such  trade  after  an- 
other the  remedy  of  a  minimum  wage. 

There  can  be  little  doubt  that,  trade  by  trade,  the 



principle  will  extend.  For  instance,  the  two  and  a 
half  millions  now  guaranteed  against  unemployment 
are  guaranteed  against  it  for  a  certain  weekly  sum. 
That  weekly  sum  must  bear  some  relation  to  their  es- 
timated earnings  when  they  are  in  employment. 

It  is  a  short  step  from  the  calculation  of  unemploy- 
ment benefit  (its  being  fixed  by  statute  at  a  certain 
level,  and  that  level  determined  by  something  which 
is  regarded  as  the  just  remuneration  of  labour  in  that 
trade);  it  is  a  short  step,  I  say, from  that  to  a  statutory 
fixing  of  the  sums  paid  during  employment. 

The  State  says  to  the  Serf:  "I  saw  to  it  that  you 
should  have  so  much  when  you  were  unemployed.  I 
find  that  in  some  rare  cases  my  arrangement  leads  to 
your  getting  more  when  you  are  unemployed  than 
when  you  are  employed.  I  further  find  that  in  many 
cases,  though  you  get  more  when  you  are  employed, 
yetthe  difference  is  not  sufficient  to  tempt  a  lazy  man 
to  work,  or  to  make  him  take  any  particular  trouble 
to  get  work.  I  must  see  to  this." 

The  provision  of  a  fixed  schedule  during  unem- 
ployment thus  inevitably  leads  to  the  examination, 
the  defining,  and  at  last  the  imposition  of  a  minimum 
wage  during  employment;  and  every  compulsory 
provision  for  unemployed  benefits  is  the  seed  of  a 
minimum  wage. 

Of  still  greater  effect  is  the  mere  presence  of  State 
regulation  in  such  a  matter.  The  fact  that  the  State 


has  begun  to  gather  statistics  of  wages  over  these 
large  areas  of  industry,  and  to  do  so  not  for  a  mere 
statistical  object,  but  a  practical  one,  and  the  fact 
that  the  State  has  begun  to  immix  the  action  of 
positive  law  and  constraint  with  the  older  system 
of  free  bargaining,  mean  that  the  whole  weight  of 
its  influence  is  now  in  favour  of  regulation.  It  is  no 
rash  prophecy  to  assert  that  in  the  near  future  our 
industrial  society  will  see  a  gradually  extending  area 
of  industry  in  which  from  two  sides  the  fixing  of 
wages  by  statute  shall  appear.  From  the  one  side  it 
willcome  in  the  form  of  the  State  examining  the  con- 
ditions of  labour  in  connection  with  its  own  schemes 
for  establishing  sufficiency  and  security  by  insurance. 
From  the  other  side  it  will  come  through  the  reason- 
able proposals  to  make  contracts  between  groups  of 
labour  and  groups  of  capital  enforceablein  the  Courts. 

So  much,  then,  for  the  Principle  of  a  Minimum 
Wage.  It  has  already  appeared  in  our  laws.  It  is  cer- 
tain to  spread.  But  how  does  the  presence  of  this  in- 
troduction of  a  Minimum  form  part  of  the  advance 
towards  the  Servile  State? 

I  have  said  that  the  principle  of  a  minimum  wage 
involves  as  its  converse  the  principle  of  compulsory 
labour.  Indeed,  most  of  the  importance  which  the 
principle  of  a  minimum  wage  has  for  this  inquiry 



lies  in  that  converse  necessity  of  compulsory  labour 
which  it  involves. 

But  as  the  connection  between  the  two  may  not 
be  clear  at  first  sight,  we  must  do  more  than  take  it 
for  granted.  We  must  establish  it  by  process  of  reason. 

There  are  two  distinct  forms  in  which  the  whole 
policy  of  enforcing  security  and  sufficiency  by  law 
for  the  proletariat  produce  a  corresponding  policy 
of  compulsory  labour. 

The  first  of  these  forms  is  the  compulsion  which 
the  Courts  will  exerciseupon  either  of  the  parties  con- 
cerned in  the  giving  and  in  the  receiving  of  the  mini- 
mum wage.  The  second  form  is  the  necessity  under 
which  society  will  find  itself,  when  once  the  principle 
of  the  minimum  wage  is  conceded,  coupled  with  the 
principle  of  sufficiency  and  security,  to  maintain  those 
whom  the  minimum  wage  excludes  from  the  area  of 
normal  employment. 

As  to  the  first  form  : — 

A  Proletarian  group  has  struck  a  bargain  with  a 
groupof  Capitalists  totheeffectthatitwill produce  for 
that  capital  ten  measures  of  value  in  a  year,  will  be 
content  to  receive  six  measures  of  value  for  itself,and 
will  leave  four  measures  as  surplus  value  for  the  Capi- 
talists. The  bargain  is  ratified  ;  the  Courts  have  the 
power  to  enforce  it.  If  the  Capitalists  by  some  trick 
of  fines  or  by  bluntly  breaking  their  word  pay  out 
in  wages  less  than  the  six  measures,  the  Courts  must 


have  some  power  of  constraining  them.  In  other 
words,  there  must  be  some  sanction  to  the  action  of 
the  law.  There  must  be  some  power  of  punishment, 
and, through punishment,of compulsion.  Conversely, 
if  the  men,  having  struck  this  bargain,  go  back  upon 
their  word  ;  if  individuals  among  them  or  sections 
among  them  cease  work  with  a  newdemand  for  seven 
measures  instead  of  six,  the  Courts  must  have  the 
power  of  constrainingandof  punishing  them.  Where 
the  bargain  is  ephemeral  or  at  any  rate  extended  over 
only  reasonable  limits  of  time,  it  would  be  straining 
language  perhaps  to  say  that  each  individual  case  of 
constraint  exercised  against  the  workmen  would  be 
a  case  of  compulsory  labour.  But  extend  the  system 
over  a  long  period  of  years,  make  it  normal  to  in- 
dustry and  accepted  as  a  habit  in  men's  daily  con- 
ception of  the  way  in  which  their  lives  should  be  con- 
ducted, and  the  method  is  necessarily  transformed 
into  a  system  of  compulsory  labour.  In  trades  where 
wages  fluctuate  little  this  will  obviously  be  the  case. 
"  You,  the  agricultural  labourers  of  this  district,  have 
taken  fifteen  shillings  a  week  for  a  very  long  time. 
It  has  worked  perfectly  well.  There  seems  no  reason 
why  you  should  have  more.  Nay,  you  putyour  hands 
to  it  through  your  officials  in  the  year  so  and  so  that 
you  regarded  that  sum  as  sufficient.  Such  and  such 
of  your  members  are  now  refusing  to  perform  what 
this  Court  regards  as  a  contract.  They  must  return 



within  the  limits  of  that  contract  or  suffer  the  con- 

Remember  what  power  analogy  exercises  over 
men's  minds,  and  how,  when  systems  of  the  sort  are 
common  to  many  trades,  they  will  tend  to  create  a 
general  point  of  view  for  all  trades.  Remember  also 
how  comparatively  slight  a  threat  is  already  sufficient 
to  control  men  in  our  industrial  society,  the  prole- 
tarian mass  of  which  is  accustomed  to  live  from  week 
to  week  under  peril  of  discharge,  and  has  grown 
readily  amenable  to  the  threat  of  any  reduction  in 
those  wages  upon  which  it  can  but  just  subsist. 

Nor  are  the  Courts  enforcing  such  contracts  or 
quasi-contracts  (as  they  will  come  to  be  regarded) 
the  only  inducement. 

A  man  has  been  compelled  by  law  to  put  aside 
sums  from  his  wages  as  insurance  against  unemploy- 
ment. But  he  is  no  longer  the  judge  of  how  such 
sums  shall  be  used.  They  are  not  in  his  possession ; 
they  are  not  even  in  the  hands  of  some  society  which 
he  can  really  control.  They  are  in  the  hands  of  a 
Government  official.  "  Here  is  work  offered  you  at 
twenty-five  shillings  a  week.  If  you  do  not  take  it 
you  certainly  shall  not  have  a  right  to  the  money 
you  have  been  compelled  to  put  aside.  If  you  will 
take  it  the  sum  shall  still  stand  to  your  credit,  and 
when  next  in  my  judgment  your  unemployment  is 
not  due  to  your  recalcitrance  and  refusal  to  labour, 


I  will  permit  you  to  have  some  of  your  money :  not 
otherwise."  Dovetailing  in  with  this  machinery  of 
compulsion  is  all  that  mass  of  registration  and  doc- 
keting which  is  accumulating  through  the  use  of 
Labour  Exchanges.  Not  only  will  the  Official  have 
the  power  to  enforce  special  contracts,  or  the  power 
to  coerce  individual  men  to  labour  under  the  threat 
of  a  fine,  but  he  will  also  have  a  series  of  dossiers  by 
which  therecord  of  each  workman  can  be  established. 
No  man,  once  so  registered  and  known,  can  escape; 
and,  of  the  nature  of  the  system,  the  numbers  caught 
in  the  net  must  steadily  increase  until  the  whole  mass 
of  labour  is  mapped  out  and  controlled. 

These  are  very  powerful  instruments  of  compul- 
sion indeed.  They  already  exist.  They  are  already  a 
part  of  our  laws. 

Lastly,  there  is  the  obvious  bludgeon  of"  compul- 
sory arbitration":  a  bludgeon  so  obvious  that  it  is 
revolting  even  to  our  proletariat.  Indeed,  I  know  of 
no  civilised  European  state  which  has  succumbed  to 
so  gross  a  suggestion.  For  it  is  a  frank  admission  of 
servitudeatonestep.and  for  good  and  all.such  as  men 
of  our  culture  are  not  yet  prepared  to  swallow.* 

So  much,  then,  for  the  first  argument  and  the  first 
form  in  which  compulsory  labour  is  seen  to  be  a  di- 
rect and  necessary  consequence  of  establishing  a  mi- 

*  But  it  has  twice  been  brought  forward  in  due  process  as  a 
Bill  in  Parliament ! 



nimum  wage  and  of  scheduling  employment  to  a 

The  second  is  equally  clear.  In  the  production  of 
wheat  the  healthy  and  skilled  man  who  can  produce 
ten  measures  of  wheat  is  compelled  to  work  for  six 
measures,  and  the  Capitalist  is  compelled  to  remain 
content  with  four  measures  for  his  share.  The  law 
will  punish  him  if  he  tries  to  get  out  of  his  legal  obli- 
gation and  to  pay  his  workmen  less  than  six  meas- 
ures of  wheat  during  the  year.  What  of  the  man  who 
is  not  sufficiently  strong  or  skilled  to  produce  even 
six  measures  ?  Will  the  Capitalist  be  constrained  to 
pay  him  more  than  the  values  he  can  produce  ?  Most 
certainly  not.  The  whole  structure  of  production  as 
it  was  erected  during  the  Capitalist  phase  of  our  in- 
dustry has  been  left  intact  by  the  new  laws  and  cus- 
toms. Profit  is  still  left  a  necessity.  If  it  were  de- 
stroyed, still  more  if  a  loss  were  imposed  by  law,  that 
would  be  a  contradiction  of  the  whole  spirit  in  which 
all  these  reforms  are  being  undertaken.  They  are 
being  undertaken  with  the  object  of  establishing  sta- 
bility where  there  is  now  instability,  and  of  "  recon- 
ciling," as  the  ironic  phrase  goes,  "  the  interests  of 
capital  and  labour."  It  would  be  impossible,  without 
a  general  ruin,  to  compel  capital  to  lose  upon  the  man 
who  is  not  worth  even  the  minimum  wage.  How  shall 
that  element  of  insecurity  and  instability  be  elimin- 
177  12 


ated  ?  To  support  the  man  gratuitously  because  he 
cannot  earn  a  minimum  wage,  when  all  the  rest  of  the 
commonwealth  is  working  for  its  guaranteed  wages, 
is  to  put  a  premium  upon  incapacity  and  sloth.  The 
man  must  bemadeto  work.  Hemust  betaught, if  pos- 
sible, to  produce  those  economic  values,  which  are  re- 
garded as  the  minimum  of  sufficiency.  He  must  be 
kept  at  that  work  even  if  he  cannot  produce  the  mini- 
mum, lest  his  presence  as  a  free  labourer  should  im- 
peril the  whole  scheme  of  the  minimum  wage,  and 
introduce  at  the  same  time  a  continuous  element  of 
instability.  Hence  he  is  necessarily  a  subject  for 
forced  labour.  We  have  not  yet  in  thiscountry.estab- 
lished  by  force  of  law,  the  right  to  this  form  of  com- 
pulsion, but  it  is  an  inevitable  consequence  of  those 
other  reforms  which  have  just  been  reviewed.  The 
"Labour  Colony"  (a  prison  so  called  because  euphe- 
mism is  necessary  to  every  transition)  will  be  erected 
to  absorb  this  surplus,  and  that  last  form  of  compul- 
sion will  crown  the  edifice  of  these  reforms.  They 
will  then  be  complete  so  far  as  the  subject  classes  are 
concerned,  and  even  though  this  particular  institu- 
tion of  the  "  Labour  Colony  "  (logically  the  last  of 
all)  precede  in  time  other  forms  of  compulsion,  it  will 
make  the  advent  of  those  other  forms  of  compulsion 
more  certain,  facile,  and  rapid. 

There  remains  one  last  remark  to  be  made  upon 



the  concrete  side  of  my  subject.  I  have  in  this  last 
section  illustrated  the  tendency  towards  the  Servile 
State  from  actual  laws  and  actual  projects  with  which 
all  are  to-day  familiar  in  English  industrial  society, 
and  I  have  shown  how  these  are  certainly  establish- 
ing the  proletariat  in  a  novel,but  to  them  satisfactory, 
Servile  Status. 

It  remains  to  point  out  in  a  very  few  lines  the  com- 
plementary truth  that  whatshould  be  the  very  essence 
of  Collectivist  Reform,  to  wit,  the  translation  of  the 
means  of  production  from  the  hands  of  private  owners 
to  the  hands  of  public  officials,  is  nowhere  being  at- 
tempted. So  far  from  its  being  attempted,  all  so- 
called  "  Socialistic  "  experiments  in  municipalisation 
and  nationalisation  aremerelyincreasingthedepend- 
ence  of  the  community  upon  the  Capitalist  class.  To 
prove  this,  we  need  only  observe  that  every  single 
one  of  these  experiments  is  effected  by  a  loan. 

Now  what  is  meant  in  economic  reality  by  these 
municipal  loans  and  national  loans  raised  for  the  pur- 
pose of  purchasing  certain  small  sections  of  the  means 
of  production  ? 

Certain  Capitalists  own  a  number  of  rails,  cars,  etc. 
They  put  to  work  upon  these  certain  Proletarians,and 
the  result  is  a  certain  total  of  economic  values.  Let 
the  surplus  values  obtainable  by  the  Capitalists  after 
the  subsistence  of  the  proletarians  is  provided  for 
amount  to  £  1 0,000  a  year.  We  all  know  how  a  system 


of  this  sort  is  "Municipalised.  A  "loan  "is  raised.  It 
bears  "interest."  It  is  saddled  with  a  "sinking  fund." 

Now  this  loan  is  not  really  made  in  money,  though 
the  terms  of  it  are  in  money.  It  is,  at  the  end  of  a 
long  string  of  exchanges,  nothing  more  nor  less  than 
the  loan  of  the  cars,  the  rails,  etc.,  by  the  Capitalists 
to  the  Municipality.  And  the  Capitalists  require, 
before  they  will  strike  the  bargain,  a  guarantee  that 
the  whole  of  their  old  profit  shall  be  paid  to  them,  to- 
gether with  a  further  yearly  sum,  which  after  a  certain 
number  of  years  shall  represent  the  original  value  of 
the  concern  when  they  handed  it  over.  These  last 
additional  sums  are  called  the  "  sinking  fund  " ;  the, 
continued  payment  of  the  old  surplus  values  is  called 
the  "  interest." 

In  theory  certain  small  sections  of  the  means  of 
production  might  be  acquired  in  this  way.  That  par- 
ticular section  would  have  been  "  socialised."  The 
"  Sinking  Fund  "  (that  is,  the  paying  of  the  Capital- 
ists for  their  plant  by  instalments)  might  be  met  out 
of  the  general  taxation  imposed  on  the  community, 
considering  how  large  that  is  compared  with  any  one 
experiment  of  the  kind.  The  "interest"  may  by  good 
management  be  met  out  of  the  true  profits  of  the 
tramways.  At  the  end  of  a  certain  number  of  years 
the  community  will  be  in  possession  of  the  tramways, 
will  no  longer  be  exploited  in  this  particular  by  Capi- 
talism, will  have  bought  out  Capitalism  from  the 

1 80 


general  taxes,  and,  in  so  far  as  the  purchase  money 
paid  has  been  consumed  and  not  saved  or  invested 
by  the  Capitalists,  a  small  measure  of  "socialisation" 
will  have  been  achieved. 

As  a  fact  things  are  never  so  favourable. 

In  practice  three  conditions  militate  against  even 
these  tiny  experiments  in  expropriation:  the  fact  that 
the  implements  are  always  sold  at  much  more  than 
their  true  value  ;  the  fact  that  the  purchase  includes 
non-productive  things ;  and  the  fact  that  the  rate  of 
borrowing  is  much  faster  than  the  rate  of  repayment. 
These  three  adverse  conditions  lead  in  practice  to 
nothing  but  the  riveting  of  Capitalism  more  securely 
round  the  body  of  the  State. 

For  what  is  it  that  is  paid  for  when  a  tramway, 
for  instance,  is  taken  over  ?  Is  it  the  true  capital 
alone,  the  actual  plant,  which  is  paid  for,  even  at  an 
exaggerated  price?  Far  from  it!  Over  and  above 
the  rails  and  the  cars,  there  are  all  the  commissions 
that  have  been  made,  all  the  champagne  luncheons, 
all  the  lawyers'  fees,  all  the  compensations  to  this 
man  and  to  that  man,  all  the  bribes.  Nor  does  this 
exhaust  the  argument.  Tramways  represent  a  pro- 
ductive investment.  What  about  pleasure  gardens, 
wash-houses,  baths,  libraries,  monuments,  and  the 
rest  ?  The  greater  part  of  these  things  are  the  pro- 
duct of  "  loans."  When  you  put  up  a  public  institu- 
tion you  borrow  the  bricks  and  the  mortar  and  the 


iron  and  the  wood  and  the  tiles  from  Capitalists,  and 
you  pledge  yourself  to  pay  interest,  and  to  produce  a 
sinking  fund  precisely  as  though  a  town  hall  or  a  bath 
were  a  piece  of  reproductive  machinery. 

To  this  must  be  added  the  fact  that  a  considerable 
proportion  of  the  purchases  are  failures  :  purchases 
of  things  just  before  they  are  driven  out  by  some  new 
invention  ;  while  on  the  top  of  the  whole  business 
you  have  the  fact  that  the  borrowing  goes  on  at  a  far 
greater  rate  than  the  repayment. 

In  a  word,  all  these  experiments  up  and  down 
Europeduring  our  generation,  municipal  and  nation- 
al, have  resulted  in  an  indebtedness  to  capital  in-" 
creasing  rather  more  than  twice,  but  not  three  times, 
as  fast  as  the  rate  of  repayment.  The  interest  which 
capital  demands  with  a  complete  indifference  as  to 
whether  the  loan  is  productive  or  non-productive 
amounts  to  rather  more  than  I  \  per  cent,  excess  over 
the  produce  of  the  various  experiments,  even  though 
we  countin  the  most  lucrative  and  successful  of  these, 
such  as  the  state  railways  of  many  countries,  and 
the  thoroughly  successful  municipal  enterprises  of 
many  modern  towns. 

Capitalism  has  seen  to itthat  itshallbea  winner  and 
not  a  loser  by  this  form  of  sham  Socialism,  as  by  every 
other.  And  the  same  forces  which  in  practice  forbid 
confiscation  see  to  it  that  the  attempt  to  mask  con- 
fiscation by  purchase  shall  not  only  fail,  but  shall 



turn  against  those  who  have  not  had  the  courage  to 
make  a  frontal  attack  upon  privilege. 

With  these  concrete  examples  showing  how  Col- 
lectivism, in  attempting  its  practice,  does  but  confirm 
the  Capitalist  position,  and  showinghowour  laws  have 
already  begun  to  impose  a  Servile  Status  upon  the  Pro- 
letariat, I  end  the  argumentative  thesis  of  this  book. 

I  believe  I  have  proved  my  case. 

The  future  of  industrial  society,  and  in  particular 
of  English  society,  left  to  its  own  direction,  is  a  future 
in  which  subsistence  and  security  shall  be  guaranteed 
for  the  Proletariat,  but  shall  be  guaranteed  at  the  ex- 
pense of  the  old  political  freedom  and  by  the  estab- 
lishment of  that  Proletariat  in  a  status  really,  though 
not  nominally,  servile.  At  the  same  time,  the  Own- 
ers will  be  guaranteed  in  their  profits,  the  whole 
machinery  of  production  in  the  smoothness  of  its 
working,  and  that  stability  which  has  been  lost  under 
the  Capitalist  phase  of  society  will  be  found  once 

The  internal  strains  which  have  threatened  society 
during  its  Capitalist  phase  will  be  relaxed  and  elimi- 
nated, and  the  community  will  settle  down  upon  that 
Servile  basis  which  was  its  foundation  before  the 
advent  of  the  Christian  faith,  from  which  that  faith 
slowly  weaned  it,  and  to  which  in  the  decay  of  that 
faith  it  naturally  returns. 



social  movement  of  the  past  with  accuracy  and  in 
detail  if  one  can  spare  to  the  task  the  time  necessary 
for  research  and  further  bring  to  it  a  certain  power  of 
co-ordination  by  which  a  great  mass  of  detail  can  be 
integrated  and  made  one  whole. 

Such  a  task  is  rarely  accomplished,  but  it  does  not 
exceed  the  powers  of  history. 

With  regard  to  the  future  it  is  otherwise.  No  one 
can  say  even  in  its  largest  aspect  or  upon  its  chief 
structural  line  what  that  future  will  be.  He  can  only 
present  the  main  tendencies  of  his  time:  he  can  only 
determinetheequationof  the  curve  and  presume  that 
thatequation  will  apply  more  or  less  to  its  next  devel- 

So  far  as  I  can  judge,  those  societies  which  broke 
with  thecontinuity  of  Christian  civilisation  in  the  six- 
teenth century — which  means,  roughly,  North  Ger- 
many and  Great  Britain — tend  at  present  to  the  re- 
establishment  of  a  Servile  Status.  It  will  be  diversi- 
fied by  local  accident,  modified  by  local  character, 
hidden  under  many  forms.  But  it  will  come. 

That  the  mere  Capitalist  anarchy  cannot  endure 
is  patent  to  all  men.  That  only  a  very  few  possible 
solutions  to  it  exist  should  be  equally  patent  to  all. 
For  my  part,  as  I  have  said  in  these  pages,  I  do  not 
believe  there  are  more  than  two :  a  reaction  towards 
well-divided  property,  or  the  re-establishment  of  ser- 


vitude.  I  cannot  believe  that  theoretical  Collectiv- 
ism, now  so  plainly  failing,  will  ever  inform  a  real  and 
living  society. 

But  my  conviction  that  the  re-establishment  of  the 
Servile  Status  in  industrial  society  is  actually  upon 
us  does  not  lead  me  to  any  meagre  and  mechanical 
prophecy  of  what  the  future  of  Europe  shall  be.  The 
force  of  which  I  have  been  speaking  is  not  the  only 
force  in  the  field.  There  is  a  complex  knot  of  forces 
underlyingany  nation  once  Christian;  a  smouldering 
of  the  old  fires. 

Moreover,  one  can  point  to  European  societies 
which  will  most  certainly  reject  any  such  solution' of 
our  Capitalist  problem,  just  as  the  same  societies  have 
either  rejected,or  lived  suspicious  of,  Capitalism  itself, 
and  have  rejected  or  lived  suspicious  of  that  industrial 
organisation  which  till  lately  identified  itself  with 
"  progress  "  and  national  well-being. 

These  societies  are  in  the  main  the  same  as  those 
which,  in  that  great  storm  of  the  sixteenth  century, 
— the  capital  episode  in  the  story  of  Christendom — 
held  fast  to  tradition  and  saved  the  continuity  of 
morals.  Chief  among  them  should  be  noted  to-day 
the  French  and  the  Irish. 

I  would  record  it  as  an  impression  and  no  more 
that  the  Servile  State,  strong  as  the  tide  is  making 
for  it  in  Prussia  and  in  England  to-day,will  be  modified, 
checked,  perhaps  defeated  in  war,  certainly  halted 



in  its  attempt  to  establish  itself  completely,  by  the 
strong  reaction  which  these  freer  societies  upon  its 
flank  will  perpetually  exercise. 

Ireland  has  decided  for  a  free  peasantry,  and  our 
generation  has  seen  the  solid  foundation  of  that  insti- 
tution laid.  In  France  the  many  experiments  which 
elsewhere  have  successfully  introduced  the  Servile 
State  have  been  contemptuously  rejectedbythepopu- 
lace,and  (most  significant!)  a  recent  attempt  to  regis- 
ter and  to  "insure"  the  artisans  as  a  separate  category 
of  citizens  has  broken  down  in  the  face  of  an  universal 
and  a  virile  contempt. 

That  this  second  factor  in  the  development  of  the 
future,  the  presence  of  free  societies,  will  destroy  the 
tendency  to  the  Servile  State  elsewhere  I  do  not 
affirm,  but  I  believe  that  it  will  modify  that  tendency, 
certainly  by  example  and  perhaps  by  direct  attack. 
And  as  I  am  upon  the  whole  hopeful  that  the  Faith 
will  recover  its  intimateandguidingplace  in  the  heart 
of  Europe,  so  I  believe  that  this  sinking  back  into  our 
original  Paganism  (for  the  tendency  to  the  Servile 
State  is  nothing  less)  will  in  due  time  be  halted  and 

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buckram,  58.  net;  leather,  78.  6d.  net ;  vellum,  IDs.  6d.  net. 


By  GEORGE  A.  BIRMINGHAM,  Author  of  "  Spanish  Gold,"  etc.    With 

16  Illustrations  in  Colour  by  HENRY  W.  KERR,  R.S.A.     New  Edition. 

Extra  crown  8vo,  288  pp.,  buckram,  5s.  net ;  velvet  Persian,  78.  6d. 

net ;  vellum,  IDs.  6d.  net. 


By  WALTER  RAYMOND,  Author  of  "The  Book  of  Simple  Delights," 

etc.    With  16  Illustrations  in  Colour  by  WILFRED  BALL,  R.  E.     Extra 

crown  8vo,  462  pp.,  buckram,  5s.  net ;  velvet  Persian,  7s.  6d.  net ; 

vellum,  ids.  6d.  net. 

Mr.  Raymond,  in  this  book,  describes  English  country  life  as  it  still 
is  in  the  hamlets  of  to-day,  just  as  a  hundred  years  ago.  His  well-known 
touch  sympathetically  lights  up  the  rustic  character,  its  humour,  and  its 
simplicity.  Mr.  Wilfred  Ball's  illustrations  are  a  notable  feature  of 
this  interesting  work,  which  will  be  one  of  the  best  gift-books  of  the  season. 


By  MARY  E.  MITFORD,  Author  of  "Our  Village."    With  16  Pictures 

in  Colour  by  STANHOPE  A.  FORBES,  R.A.,  of  typical  scenes  of  English 

rural  life.     Extra  crown  8vo,  350  pages,  buckram,  5s.  net ;  velvet 

Persian,  7s.  6d.  net ;  vellum,  IDs.  6d.  net. 

To  every  lover  of  old  English  life  this  will  prove  a  most  attractive 
presentation  book.    The  fine  colouring  of  the  artist' s  famous  pictures  will 
appeal  strongly  to  all  admirers  of  the  real  charm  of  quiet  English  rural 
life  and  character. 


By  Mrs.  S.  C.  HALL.  Containing  16  Reproductions  in  Colour  from  the 
famous  paintings  of  ERSKINE  NICOL,  R.  A.  Extra  crown  8vo,  330  pp., 
buckram,  6s.  net ;  velvet  Persian,  7s.  6d.  net ;  vellum,  IDs.  6d.  net. 

The  finest of Erskine  NicoTs  inimitable  and  world-famous  pictures  of 
Irish  life  appropriately  illustrate  Mrs.  S.  C.  Hall's  well-known  tales, 
and  charmingly  depict  the  full  wit  and  humour  of  the  true   Irish 



By  NICHOLAS  DICKSON.    Edited  by  D.  MACLEOD  MALLOCH.    With 

16  Illustrations  in  Colour,  depicting  old  Scottish  life,  by  well-known 

artists.      Extra    crown  8vo,   340  pp.,   buckram,   68.   net ;    leather, 

7s.  6d.  net ;  vellum,  IDs.  6d.  net. 


Life  in  a  Scottish  Village  a  hundred  years  ago.     By  D.  M.  MoiR. 

New  Edition.     With  16  Illustrations  in  Colour  by  C.  MARTIN  HARDIE, 

R.S.A.     Extra  crown  8vo,  360  pages,   buckram,  SB.   net;  leather, 

7s.  6d.  net ;  vellum,  10s.  6d.  net. 

Mansie  Wauch  stands  among  the  great  classics  of  Scottish  life,  such 
as  Dean  Ramsay  and  Annals  of  the  Parish.     It  faithfully  portrays  the 
village  life  of  Scotland  at  the  beginning  of  last  century  in  a  humorous 
and  whimsical  vein, 


By  JOHN  GALT.    With  16  Illustrations  in  Colour  by  HENRY  W.  KERK, 

R.S.A.      Extra  crown  8vo,   316  pp.,   buckram,    SB.    net;    leather, 

7s.  6d.  net ;  vellum,  IDs.  6d.  net. 

"  Certainly  no  such  picture  of  the  life  of  Scotland  during  the  closing 
years  of  the  i8th  century  has  ever  been  written.  He  shows  us  with  vivid 
directness  and  reality  what  like  were  the  quiet  lives  of  leal  folk,  burghers, 
anaministers,  andcountry  lairds  ahundredyearsago" — S.  R.CROCKETT. 


By  DEAN  RAMSAY.    New  Edition,  entirely  reset.    Containing  16  Illus- 
trations in  Colour  by  HENRY  W.  KERR,  R.S.A.     Extra  crown  8vo, 
400    pp.,    buckram,    SB.    net ;     leather,     7s.     6d.     net ;     vellum, 
10s.  6d.  net 

This  great  storehouse  of  Scottish  humour  is  undoubtedly  "  the  best  book 
on  Scottish  life  and  character  ever  written."     This  edition  owes  much 
of  its  success  to  the  superb  illustrations  of  Mr.  H.   W.  Kerr,  R.S.A. 


By  FRANCIS  WATT,  Joint-Author  of  "Scotland  of  To-day,"  etc.  etc. 

With  32  Portraits  in  Collotype.     Extra  crown  8vo,  312  pp.,  buckram, 

58.  net ;  leather,  7s.  6d.  net ;  parchment,  IDs.  6d.  net. 


By  D.  MACLEOD  MALLOCH.    With  a  Frontispiece  in  Colour  and  32 

Portraits  in  Collotype.     Extra  crown  8vo,  400  pp. ,  buckram,  SB.  net ; 

leather,  7s.  6d.  net ;  parchment,  ids.  6d.  net. 



A  series  of  monographs,  handsomely  and  artistically  produced,  of  the 
lives  of  such  beautiful  and  famous  women  and  chivalrous  men,  whose 
careers  provide  to  the  present-day  reader  possibly  the  most  fascinating 
stories  in  history.  Each  volume  is  written  by  a  recognised  authority 
on  his  subject,  and  contains  illustrations  in  colour  and  in  imitation 
photogravure  of  the  best  portraits  and  pictures  relating  to  the  period. 

With  many  Illustrations  in  Colour,  in  Gravure-tint,  and  in  Collotype. 

Crown  8vo,  buckram,  with  mounted  illustrations,  5s.  net ;  bound  in 

velvet  Persian  and  boxed,  7s.  6d.  net ;  vellum,  IDs.  6d.  net. 


By  CECIL  CHESTERTON.     With  4  Illustrations  in  Colour  and  16  in 


The  story  of  Nell  Gwyn,  who  won  the  heart  of  King  Charles  II,  is 
presented  in  this  volume  by  Mr.  Chesterton  in  a  most  attractive  and 
readable  manner. 


By  E.  HALLAM  MOORHOUSE,  Author  of  "  Nelson's  Lady  Hamilton." 

With  4  Illustrations  in  Colour  and  19  in  Gravure-tint. 
Emma  Hamilton  is  one  of the  most  picturesque  feminine  figures  on  the 
stage  of  history  by  reason  of  the  great  beauty  which  caused  her  to  play 
such  a  conspicuous  part  in  the  events  of  Europe  in  her  day. 


By  FRANCIS  BICKLEY,  Author  of  "  King's  Favourites."    With  4  Illus- 
trations in  Colour  and  16  in  Gravure-tint. 

Marie  Antoinette  stands  out  as  one  of  the  tragic  figures  of  history. 
How  her  brilliant,  extravagant  court  and  her  light-hearted  intrigues 
culminated  in  the  storm  of  the  French  Revolution,  and  her  tragic  end  on 
the  scaffold,  is  a  most  fascinating  study. 


By  HILDA  T.  SKAE,  Author  of  "  The  Life  of  Mary,  Queen  of  Scots." 
With  16  Illustrations  in  Colour  and  8  Portraits  in  Collotype. 


By  WILLIAM  POWER.     With  16  Illustrations  in  Colour  and  8  Portraits 
in  Collotype 

LONDON,     W.C.  j    15     FREDERICK    STREET,    EDINBURGH 

HC  55  .65  1912  SMC 

Belloc.  Hilaire 
The  servile  state